Saturday, November 03, 2007

Forever Geek Says Technology is Destroying Society

How Technology is Destroying Society via Forever Geek

In his article, Dave at Forever Geek identifies several ways in which he feels technology is destroying society. They include:

  • Time
  • Friends
  • Communication
  • Health

The details he provides are, for the most part, irrefutable, but let's look at some ways in which those technologies he villainized might actually be benefiting society or maybe even save it?


Prior to the Internet, working a 40 hour per week job carried tremendous limits in how much outside, personal contact was allowed on a typical day. Before there were even cell phones, many employees had no method to contact friends or family during work. Now, most desk jobs include Internet access and allow some level of electronic communication for personal reasons.


In my case, it's a little odd to comment on friends because I'm definitely not the best in the world at making and keeping friends. However, technology helps me cope with my antisocial behavior. I rarely, if ever, pick up the phone to call a friend, but it's not unusual for me to send an e-mail or respond to an e-mail.

To take it a step further, I've even made friends online through work-related contacts and social networking sites. And, those friends span the globe...something that wasn't even possible when I was a kid. Back then, you had elementary school teachers trying to arrange for kids to have pen-pals in foreign countries where it could take weeks to exchange letters. Now, I can jump on Skype and video-chat for free just about anywhere in the world.


Dave seems concerned about what we're losing by communicating in text. While his household may sit at one extreme end, I don't think mine is losing much. Many of the messages we exchange by e-mail or text message wouldn't have been exchanged otherwise. I'm also much better at addressing difficult subjects over e-mail because it affords me the opportunity to closely examine the meaning and intent of my words, and in some cases, I say things that I wouldn't say in person...things that needed to be said.

As far as losing language, as much as we might not like it, languages evolve. When I look back at the Constitution or Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, I marvel at how far we've fallen. The focus when I went through school was less on eloquence and more on communicating (subject - action verb - object). Having said that, I tend to find Shakespeare a bit ridiculous (to which I'm sure many will object). Some of our new acronyms and slang from the text messaging world will be discarded, and some will be kept. That's just the nature of the beast, and if it wasn't text messaging or Twitter (what the heck is Twitter?), it would be something else.


On this point, I have to concede that being out of the sun as much as I am working at computers (that glare from the windows causes headaches, you know?) certainly doesn't help my health. Add on the sedentary nature of the job along with the bacterial/viral playground that is the keyboard, and you have a nice combination of increased risk factors for taking ill.

On the other hand, being online allows me to research health issues that I wouldn't have had a clue about otherwise. It allowed me to check into Vitamin K injections and their risks when my wife was having a bleeding event due to anti-clotting medication. I also found Dr. Eades who has dispelled several diet myths for me (fasting, fiber, protein, cholesterol) helping me to drop from 215 lbs to 184 lbs and maintain it for over a year. If I were left to mainstream media's whims, I'd probably be thinking eating a vegan diet, high in fiber, and low in fat and protein were the best options for my health all the while watching my cholesterol sky-rocket. So yes, the Internet and my computer industry job have hurt my health in some ways, but they're helping it in others.


Getting back to the subject of friends, I think it's important to point out that I communicate on a daily basis with people from the UK, India, and Russia. On a less frequent basis, I communicate with people from China and France. During the Cold War, how many Americans could say they new someone from Russia personally? How would that have affected attitudes of the citizens towards aggressive actions by their governments? My point is, the more technology shrinks the world and increases multi-cultural communication, the less we have to worry about governments going to war over invisible lines or other equally vacuous reasons.


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