Technology: Its Not Neutral

I think most of us would agree that technology is amoral. There is nothing inherently good or inherently evil within technology. Its morality comes from the way people use it.

I was teaching a class on intercultural differences. We were talking about individual and collective societies.

My students were Americans, Dominicans, and Haitians. I used the United States as an example of an individualistic society and Haiti as an example of a collective society.

One of the Haitian students commented that he thought Haiti was becoming more individualistic. He continued that there are some things that a Haitian will not share. I was curious about this. I had seen Haitians share a meager portion of food so someone else would not go hungry.

The Haitians went on to point out that most of the Haitians he knew that had cell phones would not share them. The other Haitians in the class agreed with him.

The Dominicans are not as collective as the Haitians but they are much more collective than the United States. One of the Dominicans said that he would share his stuff with other Dominicans, especially family members. But he wouldn’t share his smartphone.

Technology is not moral. That is it is neither good nor evil. But technology is amoral. It is going to change whatever it touches. Technology will produce some kind of change.

Technology Can Have Unexpected Consequences
The Star Trek motto is "To go where no man has gone before." Star Trek started using those words in 1966. In that first series, they used a factious device called a communicator.

Today’s smartphone is beyond the fiction of 48 years ago.

The unexpected consequence in Haiti was that it moved them closer to being an individualistic society. It was another step toward individual versus collective ownership.

Technology Can Divide Us

There is a division between the techies and the non–techies. But the divide is deeper than this.

Of course, there has always been a generation gap. But the rapid growth of technology has widened that gap.

The younger generation has grown up in the Digital Age. They live in a virtual world. This does not mean their world is imaginary or unreal. It means their world is the digital world of social media and mobile computing. Their vision is expanded beyond the community. They are exposed to an infinite variety of worldviews.

Technology Can Enslave Us
In From the Garden to the City John Dyer makes some interesting observations. Whatever is in the world when you were born, you consider normal. Things invented until you turn 30 are new, exciting, and creative. After 30 you consider inventions against the natural order of things.

He says, "when technology has distracted us to the point that we no longer examine it, it gains the great opportunity to enslave us."

Conclusion
There is no question that technology has made life easier.

The modern conveniences save us hours of time, but the flip side is they cost more money. They make work easier, but they rob us of exercise. They make communication more efficient, but they take away that personal face-to-face relationship.

How has technology affected your life?

What technologies are in your life that steal the richness and joy of life?

While we cannot escape the technology in our world, maybe it is time to take a fast from it for a few hours or a day or maybe even a week.

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