Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Technology Divide

I don't have an iPhone, but I have a smartphone. I don't have Facebook, but I have a computer. I don't have an iPod, but I do have a collection of songs on my computer. The point that I am making is that I do have a basic knowledge of what is going on around me in the technological era. However, I am not in synchronization with the trends of every update or upgrade that technology (or by-products of technology) present us with. For me, this could pose as a disadvantage in some aspects, and I do recognize that. I am not anti-technology; for as an engineering major, technology is an entity that I am surrounded by.

The thing that I wanted to point out is that there is a technological divide going on in the world. On the surface level, it can be seen as the haves and have nots. People who are up-to-date on technology versus those who are not. However, the other more important divide is between the people who are aware of the effects of technology versus those who are not.

Advances in the technological era have enthralled the masses with improvements in medicine, transportation, communication, etc., and have made life simpler in many aspects. But little do we know, it is hurting us as well. As things become more convenient, we become more lazy. As information becomes more readily available,we become more inclined to click and paste than to think and research. Better televisions, faster computers, and enhanced graphic video games keep us in the house more. Being guilty of it myself, many of today's extraordinary gadgets divert our attention, whether it is in the car or in the classroom, heading us toward physical ( potentially fatal) and mental danger.

It is my opinion, that for every advancement we make in some areas of technology, we take a step back as a human society. For every enhanced military weapon a country makes, the more dangerous the world becomes. The more entertaining gadgets get, the less interpersonal our relationships with people are. Things are becoming more convenient, but it is catch 22 because though our time frees up, our skill set weakens.

Also, in exchange for the convenience, there is a price to pay. For every self-checkout register or iPhone app to pay for goods, we are signing waivers that say it is ok to not have cashiers. For every online purchase or bill pay we make, we are saying it is ok to not have retail clerks or mail personnel. Basically, what I am saying is that the plan is to keep us distracted from the true "goings on." People are losing jobs, and some of the reason is because technology is getting better, not for the benefit of society, but in order to replace workers. The justification for this will be that there is not enough skilled people for the job. Why? Because of the distraction from the aura of the advancements. The work force is an expensive entity, from wages to healthcare, and to rid companies of that will save and make somebody a lot of money. I had a conversation where it was said that "machines are the perfect slaves," and to our dismay, they are here to replace our "pursuit of happiness" and lead us down the road of unhappiness.

I am not saying that there is anything wrong with enjoying the fruits of this era, but I would like us to be cognizant of the effects that such fruits have. I would like to see us utilize the powers of this era for something more than our sheer entertainment. I would like to see our brains not atrophy from disuse because of convenience. All in all, the true technological divide is the divide that this era has on our minds.

God Bless


  1. I agree completely. As we progress technologically, we actually regress (somewhat) socially/interpersonally, individually, professionally, etc. for all the reasons you’ve already articulated. I believe that this decline is only one component of the “World System’s” attempt to puppetize society. Considering the big picture, it seems to me that part of the calculated agenda is to keep folks from thinking for themselves. Sadly, critical analysis is not encouraged in general, but seemingly especially disregarded in the U.S.

    As designed, our educational system manufactures, cultivates and rewards the memorization method of learning. Students are not typically challenged to THINK, and sadly the majority never experience the awakening of intellectual curiosity. For example, while teaching/facilitating a 1st year law class as a 3rd year student, I remember the eagerness of students to regurgitate memorized facts; or to offer conclusory opinions based on life experiences or those memorized facts. But there’s just something about asking “why” that instantly turns people off. As soon as I would delve deeper into those “facts,” “opinions,” or other issues with inquiry then suddenly class participation would plummet. I run into this same root-problem now in practice. Alarmingly, seasoned attorneys struggle with understanding and applying rationale; which is completely ironic given the fact that lawyers are supposed to be adept at reasoning… (yikes)

    This problem is certainly not peculiar to lawyers/law students. People in general are lazy thinkers. Many view critical thinking as a chore as opposed to an opportunity to exercise their mind muscles so that their brains don’t atrophy from non-use, as you put it so eloquently.

    In college, my Swahili teacher would always tell us that if we got A’s in his class then we weren’t really learning anything. But if we really wanted to speak Swahili then we would most likely end up with C’s. My thought: Dude bugged out… I need that 4-credit A… he better kick rocks. So I memorized vocabulary, verb tenses, etc. and got my A’s in Beginning and Intermediate Swahili. But vis a vis Mwalimu’s clairvoyance, all I remember now from those classes is “mwalimu”=teacher; “hujambo”= hello; and “habari gani”=… I forgot. LOL

    So yes, technological advancement contributes to rote memorization and likewise lazy thinking. But like you said, we can enjoy the conveniences that such development brings, we just need to recognize, acknowledge and compensate for the negative repercussions of same yo.

  2. It funny that you say that Ash because the thing we are learning more is how to use less of our brain instead more. I agree, we are taught to memorize important information, but not how to analyze. Even from the basic question of why do you have facebook, the response is a memorized marketing scheme of "being able to connect with people that you normally wouldn't connect with." But in many cases people are not particularly able to articulate as to why it is really useful and beneficial to their individual lives. 'Memorize what you need and the other stuff is available at your hand' is the ploy that we fall for, but like you said the strategy is to keep us from thinking. Distract the reasoning, and feed into the sweet-tooth, in this case technology being the craving.

    But anyway, you need to get back on your Swahili and tell me what habari gani means.

    God Bless

  3. I have to say that I do agree with you in the regard that technology is keeping people in their homes more and making people less physically do recognize, tech can be used for evil. & The divide is the sense those who are lest technologically inclined will have less opportunities in the job market

    But I disagree with the fact that technology is making people less smart because of the enormity of educational information that is available online now. (For Example) The grad program that I'm in at the University of Maryland College Park actually puts more of a focus on the application b/c we're in the medical / biotech field. And because students are able to have access to wikapedia, and google, and use smartphones to look up information the requirements to pass the courses are A LOT more stringent nowadays then they were when I was an undergrad in the early 2000s. It's not good enough to memorize all the components of a cell, we have to think about how a cell would malfunction if one component stopped working

    scientifically speaking technology is actually making students smarter because it is teaching them how to multi-task and handle large amounts of information quickly in an efficient manner. This actually contributes to the formation of more brain cells.

    Also let us not forget that the 'Arab Spring' including the recent revolution in Egypt were significantly helped by facebook, twitter, and youtube...Lastly, I have FB b/c that's how I keep up with all my friends spread out across the world, esp. b/c my brother is in south america FB & skype are the easiest & cheapest ways for us to stay in contact.

    nice blog tho ;-D

  4. I do not believe I was saying that it is making people less smart, but I do feel it has the propensity to make people lazy in a sense. Information is information, and how you get it depends on the medium, but sometimes how you obtain it determines how such information is retained. For example, running on a treadmill and running on the ground are different but in any sense you are still running. But the fact that one workout is different and potentially more strenuous, while using muscles differently, will have varied effects. Naturally, we have a tendency to appreciate (or even retain)things that we work hard for. So, it great to have information at our palm but sometimes we take for granted information that is so readily available. Since it is available at will, the question becomes, "are we attempting to retain it?" As far as facebook, it is a powerful tool if we use is powerfully. It is a great communicator. But it only as good as how we use it.

  5. why you have to bring up running on the treadmill vs running on the street as an analogy esp. after i told you bout my relay race mannnnnn? (lol, j/k)

    ..yes I agree that technology does make people physically lazy. the point i was making is that now in the science field even with technology available there now is an extreme level of difficulty that was not present before the advent of technology so students literally can't be lazy. if you're lazy you will fail the class and that wasn't the same back in the day when there was less technology you could get away with being lazy. back in the day science classes were easier because there weren't as many scientific discoveries made so there was less information to learn it was easier to slack off then.

    as far as being able to better appreciate and retain information you work hard getting, i see what your saying there and that's a good point.

  6. Interestingly enough, the advantages that come with technology (and the use thereof) are somewhat significant and should not be overlooked. Though one byproduct of technology is the potential for distraction (*agreed*), the countless ways in which we use technology and the benefits received from that use are important.

    Maybe it is necessary to break up the discussion...addressing issues that society encounters when using technology for ENTERTAINMENT purposes as opposed to use to feed INTELLECTUAL CURIOSITY. The discussion then becomes one that focuses (primarily) on USE. A bit of a different discussion? Likely.

    I think the easy argument to make is one that relies solely on social media and the impact it has had/will have on society (i.e. social interaction, relationship building, ...interpersonal communication). Without question, technology has altered human interaction, and will continue to do so. This can be a huge disadvantage. How much it will truly hamper one's ability to communicate on a more personal level has yet to be determined. I think it is safe to assume the end result may not be a favorable one (also assuming we all agree that there is much more to be gained from a good ol' fashion conversation than from a status update , tweet or a text message).

    Technological advances make cars safer, research easier, and capturing memorable moments (via photography/videography) that much easier. When was the last time you took a trip without a camera?

    At the same time, the point made re technology replacing people in performing daily functions is a real concern. In considering this "replacement syndrome" (if I can characterize it as such) technology is definitely one piece of the equation, but it seems it is also necessary to look to the driving force/motivating gain. Corporate America is driven by the dollar. Unfortunately, when live bodies can be replaced with faster more efficient computers performing the same function in less time, corporations quickly implement this business model. This is a tremendous downfall to technological advances and should be a huge concern for society.

    Technology is not all bad all the time. However, there are definitely some real concerns I have (and we all should have) re technological advances and societal impact.

  7. Rightfully so Kim, such advancements shouldn't be overlooked because our world has been transformed through the technological explosion we have experienced throughout the centuries, namely the last three to four decades. But do we remember the pandemonium around Y2K, and all the fear that it caused due to the fear of a shutdown of everything? Do we remember the chaos that occurred when we had that glitch in the stock market that caused us to virtually lose trillions of dollars in minutes? Do we see how camera phones, youtube, social media sites invade our own privacy where it fairly easy to snap-a-shot of someone while they are unknowingly the case of some video going viral? Yes, this conversation can be broken up in all sorts of forums, and maybe it should. Cars are made safer, but GPS systems and airbags have been known to be fatal. Research is more simple, but sometimes the old fashioned way research is not bad, and the camera thing (LOL) I've lost many memory cards of pictures on trips (oh the memories!!!!!!). The point is that it is easy to take things for granted if we are not mindful. As, I am writing I am thinking about where I would be without the computer and the internet that allows me to get my message throught to people. So, I am ever so thankful for the brilliant minds that improve our world each day. The question we must ask ourselves though is that do we let technology control our lives? and for each person the answer may be different.

  8. True, true. Time has shown that complete reliance on electronic systems and technological developments can harm us in ways we couldn't begin to imagine. Its a harsh reality...a risk. Do the risks outweigh the benefits? With technology, as is the case with most other things, moderation is key.

    Do we let technology control? Not at all.

    Do we let technology supplement within reason and parameters? Possibly.

    Ps. Sorry for the lost memories. We have to find you the latest... most advanced... digital-memory cardless-camera there is. (lol...kidding)

  9. We scientists have a saying that ‘computers are stupid,’ meaning that technology has to be created, manipulated & interpreted by people to be effective. I think when looking at technology as a mechanism of control, it’s the knowledge of HOW that technology works and HOW it can be manipulated that is where the real ‘control’ lies and subsequently the 'not knowing' is where the danger lies.

    I think technology is a double-edged sword because for every ‘good’ technology has made for mankind there is also a bad component. Smartphones are great, but an essential element that is used to make them is one of the main causes of the brutal war going on in the Congo/Uganda area…advancements in medical research are great, but the creation of antibiotics has lead to the evolution of ‘super bacteria’ that cause more harmful infections….electricity is great, but a technician’s mistake in another state knocked out power for millions of people in Southern California…the internet is awesome but now anyone that has an email account is susceptible to an invasion of privacy by hackers…

    I remember watching Bill Nye “the science guy” on CNN talk about the nuclear reactors leaking after the Tsunami in Japan, and he said something to the effect of “technology will never be perfect because humans create it and control it and we’re imperfect, therefore we should never be completely dependent on it or consider it ‘fail-safe’ b/c it’s not a question of if it will fail but when”