June 11, 2010

When Technology Supersedes People

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 1:44 pm by Editorial Team

I admit to being a techno-phile.  I love computers, and am always drooling over the newest and fasted devices.  No I do not own an iPad, primarily because I’m anti-Mac.  But I do own an iPhone (against my will — it was a gift).  I admit, my iPhone causes me to lose track of time and pay less attention to people and the situation at hand.  I tout it’s helpfulness and resourcefulness, but it, as well many other technological devices can become a great temptation.

Our culture has a destructive love-affair with technology.  Many of us are consumed by the advertising which leads us to believe that the technological products we buy will make our lives better.  And these products do have a significant effect on our lives.  It’s hard to argue that in some respects, things are easier or better with technology.  If I had to do all of the crap I do at work without technology, it would stink.  However, maybe that implies something about the type of “unproductive” work I engage in as well.

However, I do see the downsides to technology, though some (ahem! Wendell Berry) would suggest a very stringent standard for technology.  The biggest problem I see is that technology supersedes relationships with people.  I find myself waiting on coworkers who have to finish something on a computer before I can talk to them.  And honestly, I rarely ever feel that need to do the same with others.  If a person is standing in front of me, I’ll drop whatever I’m doing, because I know the computer is going to be sitting there unchanged when I get back.  This is simply a small example, but I’m sure most of us have been in meetings or conversations where one of us is keeping an eye on some tech device — whether it is a watch, phone, smartphone, or computer.

Most eastern cultures, still value people foremost, whereas in the West, productivity is king.  Because we value productivity, we value technology, which makes us more productive.  However, I’m still not sure productivity is such a great value to have.  By monetizing our time, what have we really gained?  Free time? What are we freeing ourselves up to do?  We’re still going to attach a monetary value to that free time, which simply creates an endless cycle of monetizing everything we do and then feeling guilty about how we spend our time.  It’s clear we’ve monetized time, because every word we use in relation to it has to do with money.

So maybe we don’t need so much technology.  Maybe technology just leads to an endless chasing after what we could already have if we simply gave up technology.  If I feel my job is dependent on a significant amount of technology, then maybe my job is a pretty nebulous web of bullhonkery for a societal justification that a product was created.  And maybe we should do more to re-focus our efforts on people and simply be consumed by a little less technology.

Here is a good thought provoking reading about Christians and technology.

E-mail me your thoughts while I hopelessly cling to my iPhone.

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