Weekend Links

posted in: blogger | 1

Is Technology Good, Bad, or Indifferent?

The Ideas Have Consequences discussions have understandably focused quite a bit so far on our use of technology.

I think I could sum up my current opinion by saying that technology is a good tool but a terrible master, and when it is adopted without examination or thought (before as well as during), it almost always becomes a master.

For those interested in this conversation, here are some things that have added to my musings:

  • Paul Miller, a single 20-something tech writer in New York, recently decided — for philosophical & personal reasons — to give up the internet for a year. Paul’s family lives on the same street as my parents, and Paul and my brother were good friends growing up. And, let me tell you, computers and the internet have always been a huge part of their lives (my family was an early adopter of both, even “real” internet from the beginning and never AOL). But both also are and always have been thinkers, so although I don’t generally follow tech news (I leave that to my husband, whose field it is), I am following Paul’s “Offline” series, because he is funny and introspective and philosophical all at the same time.

What’s the line between “virtual” and “real”? If it’s not tangible, is it necessarily inconsequential? And how am I to know? Especially with a blindfold on. Ideas have consequences, and if an idea falls in an internet message board, and I’m not there to retweet it, it does make a sound.

The worriers, from Plato on down, have expressed grave doubts about every new adaptation in communication technologies, and the wahooists have been those people unable to see all the areas where the worriers actually had a point. What John Dyer does is show that technology is not neutral, that it has a particular bent or bias toward trouble, but that it is a good gift from God nonetheless, and that the use of technology is an essential part of what makes us human. In other words, he successfully balances the creational mandate, which drives us to develop really cool tools, and the reality of sin, which distracts us and makes us want to forget God.

Personally, between relaunching my blog, starting a new one, e-publishing, and just generally being at a self-justifying lazy point (isn’t pregnancy an excuse?), I know I do need to reexamine my own personal use of connectiveness at least.

Emily bikes for a simple and somewhat corny reason. It makes her happy. And she and Mitch love the sweet chaos of children and family. “I love my bike,” she insisted repeatedly during our conversation, “I really do. Because it’s changed my life. I can’t really explain it. In the end, my bike just brings me happiness.”

Isn’t bike-riding more “real”? What is our criteria for choosing our technologies?

One Response

  1. Anna

    Another book to add to my to-read list. :)

    I enjoyed the article about the biking family. I knew about baby carriers that attach to bikes, but I didn’t know about bikes that can transport several kids at once!