November 30, 2015

We are perhaps never more acutely aware of our dependence on technology than when that technology begins to break down. The technological advances over the past twenty years have undoubtedly made our lives easier, but that ease comes at a price. For those of us who do most of our work relying on computers and the Internet, and let’s face it, today that’s just about everybody, a simple computer malfunction or virus can wreck havoc on our daily lives. Technology is intended to make our lives easier, but nothing can be further from the truth when the technology we so rely upon ceases to function. As I write this, my computer threatens to inexplicably shut down at any moment. Over the past several weeks my laptop has restarted at random and often at the most inconvenient times. There is nothing more frustrating than writing an email only to have one’s computer restart before sending that email or saving it. To add insult to injury, my iPhone and iPad (I am a shameless Apple consumer!) are not functioning as they should. All of this makes for a very grumpy person.

We are told that the advances in technology will make our lives better, but what exactly do they mean by “better,” and moreover, who are “they?” Doubtless, the visionaries populating Silicon Valley and Alley are very smart people, but I wonder just how much we have come to rely on technology in our lives at a time when our security is at stake like never before. I pay most of my bills online and think nothing of it when it comes time to do so. In fact, the biggest complaint I have is that I need to have an online user name and password for nearly every site. The people warning us about cyber security have time and again stated that we should have different passwords for different sites, but who can keep track of them all? I do not give enough thought to identity theft, but perhaps that is because I have nothing to steal. They could steal my student loan debt, I would be happy with that. But nevertheless, identity theft is and has been an imminent threat for quite some time.

The truth of the matter is that we are at the mercy of technology and this subservience shows no signs of letting up any time soon. As we hurtle into the future and technology advances at incredible rates, we give up more of ourselves to its awesome power. Little by little, we are thinking less and buying more. But perhaps that is what the visionaries want: to create, through technological advances, a population of consumers. Perhaps technology really does make our lives better, but sooner or later we will all have to pay for its onslaught or risk giving up what about us is most human.

 

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