It is a truth universally acknowledged that technology is bad. Even more than bad, the youth have been corrupted by the hive-mind of technology. From popular videos that some consider “deep” to articles about how to plan a “technology detox,” the general consensus is that we use technology because we have to, but we’re never supposed to like it.
Cue videos like this one.
In this video, Prince Ea opens with “Did you know that the average person spends four years of his life looking down at a cellphone?” No. No, I didn’t know that, Prince Ea. Thank you. I’d be interested to know where that statistic comes from, seeing as people have not had mobile technology to this degree for even 30 years. There’s not much of a sample in there for you to know how much time that amounts to over a lifetime in reality, just with an extrapolation of the data.
But that’s fluff. Here’s the central claim of the technology lambasters like Ea, taken from his video:
Cuz while it [technology] claims to connect us, connection has gotten no better.
Ah yes, the ever-witty countercultural point about how technology connects us, but also divides us. It’s deep. It’s edgy. It’s also complete rubbish. To break it down, let’s talk about the arguments against technology.
Technology skeptics and haters alike love to use the argument of time. “We spend so much time on our cellphones!” So let’s have the courage to finish that line of thinking that they don’t want to.
This argument breaks down for several reasons. First, what else would we be doing with our time? If you’re not a farmer (and that’s not a slam on farmers), you don’t have to wake up at 5 to feed the chickens, so I guess we’ve got plenty of time.
The time argument also fails to take into account the time that technology saves us. I paid, like, five bills in five minutes before I went to sleep last night. Get up and go downtown to pay your water bill if you want, but I’ll happily stay in my underwear.
P.s. How much time did it take you to create this video and upload it to a social media platform, Ea?
The next argument put forth by joyless technophobes is that technology offers wondrous possibilities, but at the cost of having less communication or connection with people. That teenagers and millennials have less people skills simply because they’re glued to their phones 24/7.
First off, have you never seen a parent or grandparent with a phone? These arguments presuppose that the technology boom and industry is resting solely on the backbone of people who loved “Courage The Cowardly Dog” as children, which seems unlikely given millennials’ predisposition to “killing” industries.
Secondly, we live in a multi-cultural world. And when you talk about communication that’s lacking, maybe it’s that you don’t have enough creativity to use the tools we have now. We don’t have to wait months to hear about a death in the family, and we can book a flight home with our phones.
We can connect with friends, even in places of combat, or just people we met in college that live in Australia. Not to mention that we may even have a higher level of communication, as we can use multimedia resources even in our daily conversations with each other via text.
Is it funnier to say, “That’s so annoying” or to send a GIF of Tina Fey rolling her eyes?
We know about tragedies across the world and can mobilize ourselves to get people, money, goods, and services to those in need simply from one GoFundMe post. I once played Mortal Kombat with a dude in Washington who just happened to be up. It was probably Obama, but that’s besides the point.
I’m sorry you want to go back to the days where we sit in cultural enclaves and wonder about what those damn Minnesotans are up to (are they even called that? Oh, wait, lemme Google it.) All of these resources make us more able to communicate and maintain relationships that we otherwise simply would not be able to have.
When you say that’s terrible, I say you sound a little….
The last refuge of future-shamers is the argument of experience. “Sure,” they say, “You can catch all of this on your smartphone, but people are no longer experiencing things!” If you haven’t caught on by now, this is a gargantuan lie.
Human beings are meticulous documentarians, and that means that with each generation, we become better at collecting our knowledge and passing it on to the next. Granted, a lot of that knowledge is cat videos, but my point still stands. Generations into the future, they will know that we loved and revered cats as much as the Egyptians did. You know how we know that? Because they wrote it down.
There’s nothing new about documentation. Whether it’s writing on a tree, writing on a parchment, a newspaper, taking a photograph, or a taking a selfie, it’s all the same as it always has been. We’re just making better ways to do it.
It’s highly arrogant to assume in the first place that you know best how to experience a moment. I recently went to Peru and entered a club where they were playing “Wonderwall” by Oasis, a song my friends and I have a million inside jokes about. So I took a video and sent it to them. And it made them laugh. And that’s worth something.
People aren’t experiencing less – they’re experiencing differently. There is no virtue in being the old generation that grumbles about how the youth use wheelbarrows now when back in your day, you just lifted gigantic rocks yourself.
Our ability to reach out to other humans for reasons that are silly or profound, connect with strangers, be better informed, become more avid and able dissectors of information, and use the power of technology to effect (even very small) social change around us are making the world different in ways that are meaningful for us and for you, and in ways that you make use of every day.
I guess that didn’t make it into the video.
So instead of posting fluff videos with weak arguments, and before you go on a 4-week, Gwyneth Paltrow-prescribed technology detox, think about where we are. Think about what we can do now. And then…join us. There’s room for everyone.
Thanks for reading this blog, and continue to check back for more!