Technology: Are We Empowered or Enslaved?
Hmmm, when does the march of technology stop being about making our lives better and start being a self-perpetuating organism to which we are hopelessly addicted?
We live in a technology driven world in which the rhythm of our life is dictated by the machines and gadgets on which we have come to depend. In theory, technology is supposed to serve us. But Iâ€™m beginning to wonder if the pendulum hasnâ€™t swung to the other side.
So letâ€™s examine some of the technology assumptions.
Assumption: Computers enable us to do things much more efficiently â€“ thus freeing up our time for other things and making our lives easier.
Reality: Computers enable a single person to do much more work. This means we handle three or four times the amount of work than we did in the pre-computer era. Our lives arenâ€™t easier. They are more hectic and more stressful. Itâ€™s a treadmill that forces us to run ever faster to avoid being thrown off.
Assumption: The internet has made the world smaller and more intimate. It empowers us to communicate with people we would otherwise never have known existed.
Reality: The internet has made it possible for us to hole up in our houses or apartments and channel our communications through the box on our desks. We connect with people in other parts of the world but spend less time face-to-face with our next door neighbours.
Assumption: Hand-held devices (cell phones, blackberries, tablets) harness technology and empower us to make day-to-day, minute-to-minute use of this technology.
Reality: Hand-held devices harness us to technology. The harness is increasingly addictive and, among other disadvantages, obliterates the dividing line between work life and home life
Assumption: Increasing complexity and sophistication in technology is by definition good. Each new generation improves our lives exponentially.
Reality: Increasing complexity and sophistication in technology is good â€“ and increasingly critical â€“ for the bottom line of the companies who manufacture it. Each new generation pulls us exponentially deeper into the technology web with implications we wonâ€™t understand until many years down the line.
Assumption: Weâ€™ve only scratched the surface of how technology can make our lives better.
Â Reality: The law of diminishing returns applies to technology when we consider all its implications. We may already have crossed that line without realizing it.
The word â€œtechnologyâ€ has, I would argue, crossed into the realm of metaphor. We conceive of it as a metaphor for a more fulfilled existence in which we have more control over our lives. I fear that we may have blinked at the moment it crossed over and become a metaphor for an enslaved existence in which we answer to its whims.
~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of â€œUntil the Deep Water Stills â€“ An Internet-enhanced Novelâ€ â€“ double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michaelâ€™s website at www.mdyetmetaphor.comor the novel online companion at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog. Visit www.smashwords.comto download a free preview of the e-book version.
~ Follow Michaelâ€™s Metaphors of Life Journal aka Things That Make Me Go Hmmm regularly at this site. Categories: Shifting Winds, Sudden Light, Deep Dive, Songs of Nature, Random Acts of Metaphor. Originating at www.mdyetmetaphor.com/blog2.
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