There have been several discussions on the benefits/drawbacks of new technology, especially with the online world consuming so much of our time and experience. The discussions generally take the point of view that the technology is either hurting or helping us. As if the technology itself is making decisions and choosing to have a particular impact on humanity. Do we criticize the development of written language because it reduces our ability to memorize information, or the invention of the telephone for decreased writing and handwriting skills? Today’s invention of computers and the internet are modern tools that improve access to information. Personally, I have a horrible memory but I know where and how to find pertinent information because of modern technology. This may not help my memory, but it does increase my overall knowledge.
Technology is not an independent entity choosing it’s effect on the world. The outcome of the impact depends on how we choose to use the technology, while recognizing the drawbacks that we trade for advancement. If we use it for nonsense, then it becomes a huge waste of time for people. But we use it for increased communication, increased productivity, and increased anything else we CHOOSE to develop with this technology. Rather than criticize the technology for the superfluous content and distractions we should criticize ourselves for indulging in that content. Unfortunately these tools enhance a variety of human characteristics, good and bad.
The challenge is to discipline ourselves to use these tools in a positive manner, and to teach the younger generations the same. Teenagers and young adults are generally not mature enough to balance their lifestyle with productive activities in addition to the superfluous activities providing instant gratification. A fundamental problem, we need to discuss what skills and characteristics leads to long-term happiness and success; then identify activities and behaviors that contribute to those goals. What are the qualities and behaviors needed and how (multiple methods) can they be developed? A discussion for another day.