Techno Fears

Samain                                                                Bare Aspen Moon

Tech vintageGot a TV for the kid’s room. A Hanukkah present. Maybe not the most mind nourishing gift, but one they’ll really like. I spent a couple of hours setting it up yesterday, which seems like a lot until you factor in the passwords and fiddling with other settings.

Televisions, computer screens, smart phones, laptops and pads will all be excoriated a lot over the next few weeks as mind wreckers, child numbers, relationship ending appliances. But, no. As the NRA might say, screens don’t numb minds, people do. It’s the choices we make that determine how technology effects us. Yes, the technologists and software developers can be tricky, using cognitive science for their own nefarious (read, greedy) ends, but the end user is no dummy either. As with cars, electricity, ovens, knives, guns, even books, we decide how to deploy them.

tech8Right now we’re in a major cultural transition, trying to learn how these tools can be most useful for human life. They will become integrated and less shiny, less compelling as we move on to the next transition, probably to a sustainable human presence on this planet. All civilizational artifacts have ripple effects, often of unsuspected power. Think of the plow. Language. Writing. The printing press. Governance. Bow and arrow. Ships and boats. Ceramics. All had their initial years of adoption, then a clumsy time when their utility seemed swamped by the problems they created. Finally, though, they became part of human life. How did we get across the lake before we invented the boat and paddles? Or the boat and a sail? Speaking our language means we can understand each other better, no more grunting and pointing. Books contain and retain ideas over time and space. How cool is that?

tech4Maybe I’m a starry eyed optimist, probably am, but I believe we can handle this transition and that it will not save us, nor will it enslave us. A hundred years from now, maybe two hundred, we’ll see the full arc of this change, in an undoubtedly hotter and stormier future. It will have become an ancientrail, one still affording advantage, but no longer scary, at least not in the way it seems to be now.

Anyhow. The TV is there. And will get used. And the grandkids will grow up anyhow.

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