Technology

The fire of information technology — will you use it:

  • to create or consume?
  • to comfort or torment?
  • for education or entertainment?
  • as a tool or weapon?
  • to temper or incite?
  • for community or faction?
  • for harmony or rebellion?
  • to encourage or discourage?
  • to spread light or darkness?
  • to bless or curse?
  • to compliment or ridicule?
  • to save time or waste time?
  • to be generous or selfish?
  • to heal or hurt?
  • to share ideas or focus on self?
  • to be open and direct or talk behind backs?
  • to focus on things we can do or complain about things we have no control over?
  • to spread truth or falsehoods?
  • to express thankfulness or discontent?
  • to preserve our autonomy or be manipulated and exploited by others?
  • for productive pursuits or indulgence in vanity?
  • to engage in real life or escape into some virtual universe?

Do we have integrity such that our digital communications match what we would do in person? We live on a great sea of information, and the default path is to be tossed about on the waves of unverifiable communication that wash over our society, and in the end have little to show but discontent and unhappiness. Technology is an excellent tool, but a poor friend, a useful servant, but an oppressive master. Technology is no substitute for the things that bring true joy and satisfaction in life — family, friends, giving, companionship, creativity, craftsmanship, mastery, accomplishment, nature, and faith. Like fire, information technology is only useful when used intentionally and constrained to some useful purpose. Otherwise, it will rob us of our time, relationships, humanity, skills, potential, and ultimately our soul.

2 thoughts on “Technology”

  1. Here, you have drawn together a set of values that seem to belong together. And I admire and aspire myself to that kind of clarity. I have encountered some difficulties in that, especially that some of these terms are contested even among those of us who act in good faith. And, there’s not always a clear distinction between these oppositions. For instance, creativity sometimes coexists with and requires consumption. True and false get messy when neither can be extricated from the stories we tell and the roles we play.

    But despite these difficulties, anthropology gives us lots of evidence that humans are social creatures par excellence. Sometimes the things that make humanity unique are in tension, and that’s the complexity of being moral. But in the main, they work together. This, I feel, is why it is ultimately better to aim for the left-hand side of this list than the right.

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