We, technophiles, appear to be obsessed with our gadgets. What makes us love them and feel we have to have them? It’s even fun to have things no one else does, or before everyone else does just for some good-humored bragging rights.
Still, not everyone loves technology, especially generations who did not grow up with it. This is not to say that all Baby Boomers are technophobic, and, in fact, many happen to be the top coders and software engineers in the world.
Still, there are many who see technology as a dangerous siren song and think we should go back to the good old days.
Are you Technophiles?
No doubt, there were also legions of people who opposed the idea of the massive labor-saving invention of the steam engine, too. Their chief argument against technology is the Paper Is Better Theory and the Dumbing Down Theory.
Let’s take a look at each one.
Paper is Better Theory
This theory holds that we could lose all our data if our hard drive crashed. Paper, on the other hand, can be put into file cabinets. It is also a more convenient way to record or read ideas.
Frankly, this is a rather thin argument. Here’s why:
First, you can backup everything you need on a Secure USB flash drive or a cloud server. It depends on your intention. A flash drive offers the convenience of speed and portability while a cloud server offers the convenience of being able to access your data from any device from any location.
Second, you can do a lot with recording ideas or reading them through digital means. As an example, today’s Word Processor is far superior to typewriters. It’s easy to correct mistakes and rearrange paragraphs. As for e-books, they are much easier to distribute around the world. What’s more, on Kindle devices, they can even be set to read back to you.
There is no doubt that paper is still wonderful. It’s nice to read a paper-based book, it’s nice to scribble your best ideas in a paper notebook, and it’s nice to put all your paperwork in neatly labeled files. However to say the paper is better is a little like saying chiseling on the stone was better than using Papyrus or that handwritten books were better than Gutenberg’s printing press. You can still use paper if you like, but saying it’s superior to digital information is merely expressing a bias, not offering a valid argument.
Dumbing Down Theory
According to this argument, Technophiles are dumbing down because of our obsession with technology. We are spending too much time texting and not enough time talking. We are also speaking in terms of sound bites instead of having real conversations. And we prefer short-code to actually writing meaningful sentences.
First of all, any obsession is not a good thing. If you spend all day and night on your computer or smart phone, you’re not living a full life. If you also prefer texting to talking and have completely forgotten all the rules of good grammar and spelling, you’re missing out on the beauty of language to express your subtlest thoughts.
However, like any obsession, it’s not something permanent and if someone is using technology to hide from life and human interactions, then this is a psychological problem, not a technology one.
Is Obession there?
People get obsessed with all sorts of things – from sex to food to exercise. This doesn’t mean that these things in themselves are bad. An obsession can take anything and ruin it by overdoing it. It’s a neurosis that creates a loss of life balance.
Technophiles are not enslaved by the technology unless we decide to be. We are free, for example, not to respond to every text message when it arrives in the same way we have always been free to let a phone call that would interrupt our work go to voice mail.
As for dumbing down, that’s hardly true at all. We have access to a vast world of information now and can and do learn interesting new things about the world every day. In the good old days, we made mistakes because we didn’t know any better. In the absence of good information, it’s easy to make bad decisions. People who love to learn are thrilled that they can carry the contents of an entire library on their Kindle device.
Back to the Future
If, like Marty McFly in the movie Back to the Future, you could go back and stop Alan Turing from inventing the Turing Machines, which was the genesis of the computer revolution, would you do it?
When technophiles think back on how difficult it was to get enough information on important things and organize it in a meaningful way, you begin to appreciate how technology has improved our lives for the better.
Yes, it’s misused. Yes, people do get a little neurotic about it–but that’s not the fault of technology. It’s a behavior problem.
Behind our playful fascination, there is some serious work going on. As human beings, we love purpose. We thrive on excellence. We feel inspired by greatness. For aspirational people, the technology works a little like Superman’s X-ray vision or Batman’s utility belt: it allows them to perform tasks better and faster. Some tech, too, like fitness wearable devices, also improves endurance and makes us stronger.