Let me start with Facebook as an example of a technology that people now consider optional. I know plenty of people who still don’t use it. Some never have, and a few eccentrics I know had Facebook accounts but gave them up. Will they always have that choice, or will Facebook, like various other technologies, someday become essentially a requirement for functioning in the world?
After attending and presenting a paper at a three-day conference this week at Baylor University called “Technology and Human Flourishing,” I’ve been pondering the ways in which technology runs my life. Even though the conference included many amazing examples of new things technology can do, the speakers expressed at least as much anxiety about technology as celebration of it. I want to devote a few posts to technology’s influence, both good and bad.
The first area I want to consider is how much Choice I have—or don’t have—about which technologies control me. I like to think I’m a careful consumer of technology and that I choose which gadgets and services will dominate my time, energy and attention. I like to think I am not a slave to it, but is freedom from slavery to technology realistic anymore?
When Technology Was Still Optional
In one sense, I have chosen each technological device and service I use, and I could get rid of them any time I like. Unlike people of a younger generation, I still remember living in a world before such advances as email, voice mail, cell phones, texting, the Internet, Facebook, ipods, VCR’s and similar inventions. I remember when computers were not considered a necessary tool in either the workplace or the home.
I also remember making the conscious choice to bring some of these technologies into my life. My standard response to new technology has been to resist it at first, insisting that I don’t need it and never will, and then Continue reading