February 27, 2017

DUGGAL | Big Bad Technology

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The worst news today is the news about how technology is killing us. “The use of social media causes us to meet face-to-face with much less frequency resulting in a lack of social skills” or “technology creates the perfect recipe for depression with the lack of human contact, overeating, and lack of exercise” or “being constantly plugged in and connected causes an extra layer of stress that wasn’t present before the overuse of technology” — I can keep going, but honestly I’m sure you could type the words “bad” and “technology,” and Google’s algorithm will be happy to oblige.

It’s not so much that these news stories are fake as it is that technology seems to be pit against anything good that could occur in society. Fearing the inevitable shift towards technology accomplishes little else other than an unproductive discussion to which the only logical conclusion seems to be switching off all your devices and hiding in your house.

There seems to be a distinction people draw today of what is “real” and “unreal.” Real is what occurs in our everyday, face-to-face interactions while unreal is what apparently occurs online. There is, however, danger in drawing conclusions like this about the technology we engage with on an everyday basis. Technology tends to be a reflection of the kind of people we are and the interactions we engage in on an everyday basis. When we draw a line between technology and real life, however, we do ourselves a disservice in analyzing how technology impacts our everyday lives.
Rather than looking at how we may turn away from the technology we employ in our lives, we must look to how we may better understand and benefit from the technologies we have and will continue to use in our lives. Painting the teenagers that spend time on their phones as being too obsessed with technology unfairly identifies technology as the problem, and fails to see the larger context at hand.