Something that I’ve heard said endlessly for as long as I can remember is the fact that we as a society are going downhill because technology is invading our lives and that we’re becoming worse because of it. Somehow, our generation is under attack by technology and we must now stand vigilant against the tide of techmonology that is coming to make our lives shallower.
We’re overloading on too much information! Our attention spans are short! We can’t concentrate on anything! We’re so much more superficial now! We can’t stay still anymore! We’re burning ourselves out! We’re going too fast! I keep on hearing these things said so much that they’ve become truths. The technologies is always bads!
The context and catalyst for this post is a short conversation that I was around for concerning deeper conversations in the context of fellowship. I was surprised at how quickly the blame was put on technology for something that I consider to be our fault. The great thing about these sorts of conversations is that it takes anywhere from thirty minutes to a few hours for me to gather up my thoughts, so that will explain my lack of contribution in these things.
Of course, this post isn’t a direct riposte, for those of you who have any idea of what I was referring to (not that I’m sure anyone bothers to read this anymore). But, after a few years of observation within the church, I’ve decided to put forth more of my opinion in this matter, because I believe that the fact that technology is actually a reason for our shortcomings means that there is something wrong with our premise regarding this thing.
The main evidence offered to support the idea that this ethereal threat of technology looms about is the contrast between our generation and some sort of generation before us. The definition of generation in this case changes from group to group, but it’s usually in the form of “you kids are [something bad] because of [technology] compared to [generation before]“. This seems to imply that as time goes on and there is somehow an increase in technology, we become more bad in some way.
In the case where generations are real generations, the time period would be measured in decades. So instead of being the corrupt youth of today, what would we have been doing if we were living x amount of decades ago? According to this myth, we would be having deeper conversations, reading more, and generally being more thoughtful. Do you actually believe that? Do you really believe that just because we remove the Internet and computers and video games and TV and all of these other things that are bad for us that we’ll be living more meaningful lives?
I, sure as hell, do not.
I call shenanigans on this fast paced, instant entertainment destroying meaningful stuff school of thought. Technology and entertainment do not magically make people less inclined to grow in our relationships with other people. The argument says that we’re all distracted by all of this stuff. That implies that there wasn’t enough stuff to entertain the folks back in the day and that they did not have these problems we are trying to fix today. To me, that argument sounds ridiculous.
And every time this argument gets brought up, two technologies that are very dear to my heart are inevitably brought up and denounced. These are the Internet and video games. For some reason, we love to equate these two things as wastes of time, especially in the context of the depth of relationships between people. Instant messaging is a waste of time. Facebook is a waste of time. Video games are a waste of time. Stop spending so much time on the Internet! Why are you always playing games? Try going outside!
These things are only wastes of time if people make them wastes of time. Facebook is such a powerful way to connect with people and it makes it really simple. We make Facebook a waste of time when we use that power to join meaningless groups and add retarded applications. This is why it was far more potent when it emphasised exclusivity rather than allow this rampant, global Facebook-wide garbage.
I believe in the potential and power of technology to change and improve our social interactions. Technology is a tool. It cannot be inherently good or bad. It is neutral. It is what we make of it. The problem isn’t technology, it’s people. Technology has nothing to do with how close friends are. No, relationships are about trust. Trust has nothing to do with any of this stuff we’ve been blaming our shallow relationships on.
So the reason why we aren’t engaging in deeper conversations is not because we are tainted from the start. It is a matter of trust. Why should I share thoughts on very important things to people that I don’t trust? We can’t expect people to magically open up if we haven’t reached a certain level of trust. I know I definitely have opinions that will offend people and make them not like me if they don’t know me well enough.
And so, logically, if there is a level of trust where such opinions can be exchanged, why isn’t it happening? Are we being distracted by the interwebs? The answer is simple, we simply don’t want to do these sorts of things. There are a lot of fun things we can do instead of talk about serious things. So at this point, the blame is squarely on the people. Regardless of technology, we humans are awesome at dodging things.
And now, because this is srs poast, I will make a plea for thoughts to be shared through comments, because this is what this is all about right? Also, I want to see if people are still interested in what kinds of crap I have to say so I can write further craps knowing that I’m not speaking to this phantom audience I have in my head.