Techno Addiction

by on January 4th, 2011
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“Technology is not a panacea in education because of the skills that are being lost…”

-Patricia Greenfield

Technology is awesome; there’s no denying it. The modern world would be the envy of our ancestors if they could see us now. I’ve always had poor health; still do. If it wasn’t for modern medical science this writer would have died in childhood. I thank God for medical science. The marvels of modern technology has enhanced humanity to such an extent that a growing number of people believe the most perfect form of government is one devoid of rich warmongering politicians, greedy CEO’s, Malthusian economists, and ossified theocrats replaced by scientists, engineers, and other technologists. In such a world decision makers would be selected primarily upon their skills in their chosen fields; given humane/moral technocrats I think it could work.

With every human endeavor there are costs. We humans are a flawed lot as most religious texts will tell you. Our errors are reflected in every thing we do despite our best efforts to the contrary our technological advancements no exceptions. GPS technology, I-Pods, cellular telephones, personal computers, video games, and the myriad of other marvelous hand held inventions are great conveniences. I remember during the ‘Stone Age’ (my youth) when I had an IBM Selectric typewriter. I was so happy when I purchased that second hand machine during the latter 1950’s. I made that thing perform writing miracles! It was fast. I was a good speller who rarely misspelled words. I knew exactly where to reposition my typing paper to make those little White Out corrections; no Spell Check in those days. I had a thick dictionary next to my typewriter. To make extra copies I typed on two separate sheets with a messy blue carbon copy sheet sandwiched between. If I needed three or more copies no problem; I used more carbon sheets and-BINGO-done! The Xerox copy machine was to come out a few years later. A grand invention the PC; I compared my typewriter to the personal computer as one example.

As with all new technologies the human person looses something in exchange. Human beings had phenomenal memories until moveable type came in with Guttenberg. Think: Holy Bible, The Iliad, and other great stories before written alphabets were invented when great works were passed generationally orally.

People of all ages are hooked on techno toys. A rapidly growing number of people have become incapable of independent thinking and action. Living reality is drowned out by I-pods. The art of conversation has been taken over by texting. Overdependence on technology has turned people into mindless automatons. Large numbers of pedestrians are needlessly killed crossing streets so focused on their cell phone conversations instead of the truck that ran that red light bearing down on them. It’s a common practice for some folks I know to go out to dinner, sit down as a group, and take out their cell phones and text away instead of conversing with other dinner guests who may be sitting feet from them. Does technology intimidate me? No but some people behind those little hand held gadgets do.

Gaming technology is amazing. I went to an Office Max to buy some ink for my printer. There were two guys playing computer baseball. Each man chose a team. The widescreen made the simulated game appear as though I could touch the infield grass. I hold computer technology in such high esteem that I rarely use it to play games. I know in my heart of hearts that if I was a gamer I’d be hooked. I’d be tempted to buy my favorite game the infamous “Grand Theft Auto.” It’s sick but how I love that game!

Like your writer social commentator/critic John C. Dvorak has high praise for modern electronic technology. Dvorak also lays blame where its’ due. Here’s a paraphrased listing of the ills he attributes to technological societies with some comments of my own tossed in:

Deafness: It’s no secret that while loud music may be fun to listen to that stuff can deafen you. Wearing ear buds only individualizes the loudness.

Inability to add and subtract: Calculators are handy Math tools but have you ever wondered what would happen if you were at the check out counter and there was a power outage? Most sales clerks would be lost when it came to giving you your correct change. Whenever I work number columns I sometimes add and subtract them the old fashion way using pencil and paper to stay in practice.

Loose Sense of Direction: I often wonder about those sorry souls who rely solely on their GPS’s while driving. GPS’s aren’t infallible. One time my wife and I had to attend a funeral/reception in a southern suburb of Chicago. Along the way we got lost. I cursed the voice (never my wife) in the GPS machine out something awful. The GPS kept saying, “Turn right 100 yards.” The 100 yards ‘it’ was referring to was over some railroad tracks that had no signal and no street. I then removed the GPS and drove a few blocks alongside the train tracks the GPS earlier suggested until we found a street with crossing gate to carry us over them. Thank God! Had we crossed those tracks in between streets we would have died rather nasty and bloody deaths. A fast moving freight train would have made it three funerals instead of the planned one! GPS is cool but common sense is better. A lot of dumb accidents could have been avoided if drivers used their brains in dealing with one way streets that was changed due to construction made long after their GPS’s was purchased.

Worsened Organizational Skills: If you are a good organizer you don’t need a machine giving you instructions. Your computer will only make things worse. Use your own methods.

Inability to stay connected with society: Reader how in de’ hell can anybody ‘stay connected’ with a few hundred so-called ‘friends’ in a chat room? How on earth can you talk with someone when you’re interrupted every two or so minutes by your cell phones popping off? Speed dating; gimmie’ a break! And now the dummies have ‘virtual sex!’ Somehow hooking up with a computer screen and a bunch of wires just don’t get if for me. What wrong with the old fashion way? Governments now snoop into your private life, bank accounts, sex life, anything on a whim. Reader we gotta’ get a grip on this nonsense and soon. The old pop tune: “Mr. Roboto” had it right except for one thing; technology doesn’t dehumanize humans do.

Balkanization: Reader did you know you can watch sporting events, read, watch TV, cable programs on 1,000 channels and work the Internet all at the same time? The raw power of modern communication technology is immeasurable.

Exaggerated sense of importance: With communication between persons and countries so swift via the Internet, some people tend to exaggerate their sense of self-worth. If they’re lowly ‘pawns’ in their waking lives technology enables them to play the king/queen behind their keyboards. If you ever entered an online chat room or read message board comments you’ve noticed there are certain individuals who pretend to know it all and flaunt their lives and views over others. These people curse and ridicule posters who just want friendly conversation. They like to parade their supposed ‘intelligence’ around the WWW. Since chat rooms and message boards are global, you can imagine what pretensions must enter their self-centered little heads. These people are living proof that the mind indeed is a terrible thing to waste (motto: The United Negro College Fund).

Sense of slavery/dependency: Ordinary things like outdoor cooking, camping out, wilderness survival talents, and other outdoor skills that once made humankind masters of our universes are being lost due to our over dependence on technology. We’re slaves to the machine which is why ‘survivalist’ and back to nature groups are springing up like mushrooms in a field after a long hard rain.

History Lost: We must turn back to the second divide in human history when society-in my opinion-fell apart; the infamous 1960’s the start of the New Age Movement. With the advent of electronic record keeping, material once preserved on hard copy is being stored in computers. Books are being rapidly phased out. Electronically stored stuff is okay but what if on line saboteurs, terrorists, hackers, and other unscrupulous computer savvy individuals/groups access and delete all or certain ‘undesirable’ records? Human history in part or in its’ entirety will be irretrievably lost forever! The dystopian fictional movie “Rollerball” made viewers painfully aware that history can be altered or deleted at the whims of capricious/malicious individuals/organizations.

Technology can be addictive but there is help for techno addicts. I can’t list many helpful sites. I have provided you with ways and means to locate them. Please search the Internet under technology addictions for other valuable web sources in addition to the four I’ve listed below:

The University of Rochester’s ‘Restart Wilderness Program at: www.netaddictionrecovery.com has an excellent program

‘How to tell if you are addicted to technology’ by Clara Maskowitz at www.livescience.com.

‘Techno Addicts Young Person addiction to technology’ by Andrew P. Kakabadse, Nada K. Kakabadse, Susan Bailey, Andrew Myers at: www.signalpress.com. PDF download 23 pages.

‘Is Technology producing a decline in critical thinking and…’ by Patricia Greenfield at: www.sciencedaily.com/releases…/.

The high priests of technology have accomplished much. Many adherents of this new religion believe we’re living in the Age of Aquarius. Technology has evolved into a religion replete with rituals, prophets, a lab coated priesthood and ‘commandments.’ Many new believers have turned tech stores, game rooms, and Internet cafes into temples of the new religion. They’re replaced churches with chat rooms as outlets of popular spirituality. Case in point: I want to you stop reading this and go to your search engine and type the words: ‘Mage the Ascension’ and select Wikipedia or some other version of this computer game-cum-religious-rite then take things from there. Article space is very limited. Please read this at your leisure to see what I’m saying. Will you do it? A lot of people have replaced the real God with the golden calf of technology; this is not good my friend not good at all. We all know what happened to the ancient Israelites when they worshiped that calf of gold.

Things are so screwed up nowadays that even Atheists are having a hard time keeping abreast with new technological advancements/thought. There’s a website that bear serious examination but it comes with a warning! I strongly suggest that ‘iff’ (if and only if) you’re well versed in Thomistic natural theology that you enter this serious atheist-related website. Why Thomistic instead of Biblical; because non-believers don’t care two bits about the Bible. You gotta’ ‘hit’ those good folks from a scientific angle using a Deistic approach. St. Thomas Aquinas is the best person I can recommend. The site/source is: ‘…Technology as Religion’ by Austin Cline at; www.atheism.about.com; a lengthy article but a summary is available. Have fun.

I believe most of us would concur that technology benefits global society. Think of millions of lives saved through computer dispatch technology, those little computers doctors use do keep tired hearts pumping, CAT scan machines to identify diseases previously undetectable to be better able to cure the sick, my writing this article using my PC, flat screen television, the personal computer, those little hand-held b******* that always have a habit of popping off at the oddest moments, and the myriad number of ways in which modern technology steadily improve our lives.

I’m always fond of repeating what my first year high school teacher and long time confessor/friend used to tell our religion class: “It’s not the use of something that makes it evil but the abuse.” Fr. W said this decades before talk show hosts transformed Americans into a nation of whiny victims. Bad technology makes life miserable. Nuclear weaponry, the abortion machine, and black flag warfare is examples of abusive technologies. Our magical machines are blessings and curses. It all depends upon how we use or abuse these marvelous mechanical gifts.


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