Good Technology? Bad Technology?
A typical Instant Messenger conversation:
ScreenNameA: how r u doin
ScreenNameB: im good. u?
ScreenNameA: good. u wanna study @ library at 4?
ScreenNameB: sounds good. c u there.
I admit – I feel very fortunate to have grown up alongside the rapid innovations of technology in the past few decades. In a way, when we grow up with technology, we are one with technology – simply, most cannot live without it. While there is a lot to rave about, I wanted to share a different perspective of technology – one that considers its shortcomings.
I’ve been spending the past few days down at the U.S. Virgin Islands teaching underprivileged children. A first impression of Virgin Islands colors a picture of the ocean, the beach, and the sun. Technology is probably the last thing in anyone’s mind, and yet, some expect and require internet access wherever they go. On my way down, I grabbed a copy of the Miami Herald. The front page pictured a big cellular phone eerily resembling the Motorola RAZR, showing the text “Hello, we r thru ”. The article itself commented on the increasing use of electronic communication in place of once-formal conversations. More and more people are exchanging informal email messages in place of formal letters. As the writer of the article, Nicole White, points out, there is a growing trend of electronic etiquette problems with the advent of cellular phone technology and email messages. Quite simply, the presence of these simple means of communication seem to take presence over the more formal eye to eye meetings that were common sense not too long ago.
Step back and look at what technology has brought us both in the good sense and in the bad sense. Technology has undeniably made this world a much smaller place and in some ways, made many actions much easier. The advantages are important to keep in mind. However, the disadvantages weren’t as clear to me. For this portion, I had an opportunity to converse with my former instructor, who sees technology from a different standpoint.
“The overall is positive”, he said, “But I want to clarify that there is a difference between most people call technology (the computer) and overall technology.” I thought about it and when you think technology, around eight out of ten of us think of some sort of computer. That is simply the most prevalent type of technology – we use it day in and day out. The good sides, as he would put it, are fuel-efficient transportation, robot wielding, and surgical technologies. Even computer technology is good in the sense of instant communication. With the arrival of computer technology, however, we don’t have to move a single step to do most tasks. When he said “we overuse technology to our own detriment”, I considered it. And to an extent, I agreed with that. Obviously, sitting in front of a computer for five hours as opposed to going out and playing around in the yard is unhealthy.
Lack of independent thought. Loss of leisure reading. Wide-spread health problems. These are some of the problems associated with the presence of technology. “Take a moment and unplug so you can compare lifestyles” he urged. “It is overwhelming for people to be over-wired”.
Is technology there for our good or are they there to ultimately work against us? Are we abusing technology, like the Miami Herald article mentions? Technology is there, but how we take advantage of it determines whether or not it works for us. We’ll all be witnesses of how that plays out.