Consider the statement, “Technology has made us __________ people.” How would you fill in the blank?
By technology, I don’t mean the steam engine and the electric can opener. I’m talking about communication technology and information technology, the kind of tech that has given rise to multi-billion dollar industries while flooding our saturated and over-extended minds with Important Data, Relevant Facts, and Vital Details. You know what I’m talking about. My philosophical question is, are we better off with smart phones, 24/7 news cycles, and the never-ending bombardment of information? Or has all that barrage made us less happy, less satisfied, more fearful and even more isolated? In other words, are your Facebook friends really your friends?
When my dad was an insurance man, he had a phone on his desk and a secretary who took messages. When he was out, he was out. Calling into the office meant finding a pay phone. (Tried that recently?) I suspect my father was more satisfied in his work and had a greater sense of what was important than many of us today. Dad would not recognize the world of today, just like I won’t recognize the world into which my grandkids will grow up. I don’t mean to lapse into an exercise in gauzy nostalgia here, but maybe we ought at least to be asking the question, “What has that ceaseless flood of information done to us as people?” What are we doing to ourselves?
So how would you fill in the blank? Has communication technology made us happier or more depressed? More relaxed or more stressed? Better connected or more isolated? More productive or more paralyzed? Better informed or more bewildered? We can’t turn back the clock, of course, nor am I suggesting (necessarily) that we should. The genie is out of the bottle, Pandora’s box has been opened, etcetera. But, come on, people — can we talk?
Love to hear your thoughts.