Technology has done me no favours

It has been said many times that technology is the saviour of the human race. It has been revered by the consumerist society as the lodestone that guides our direction in society and, ultimately, it will save us from whatever danger threatens; we are technology.

But we are locusts in a buzzing swarm. We admire our empire of things, of numbers; look how big and clever we are. It is axiomatic that the locust swarm is at its biggest immediately before it collapses. We are deluding ourselves that all is well.

Let’s look at the benefits that technology has brought.

It is only in the last two hundred years that technology has benefited a large number of people and that benefit is subject to much interpretation. To the poor workers who inhabited the hell holes of the city, it was of no real benefit, it was the owners of the factories who benefited.

Medicine is often touted as the biggest improvement in our lives. But medicine is predicated on illness. Without ill health we don’t need medicine and evidence suggests that the majority of hunter gatherer societies in the past were incredibly healthy. Once you control the main infectious diseases such as Smallpox, Measles, Tuberculosis and the like, what are you left with? Today’s big killers, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, are all linked to self inflicted poor health. The rest of the modern medicine that Big Pharma trumpets as miracles of technology are remedies for ailments that have been brought on by… modern technology. Is that progress?

So perhaps three generations of the human species have benefited from technology so far. The next generation will be the first to show a negative result in terms of benefits – they will die younger due to affluence. So just three generations have drunk on the fruits of technology and become so addicted to its effects that we cannot live without it. And yet, one day soon, we shall be denied the drug. Technology is not a benediction, it is a curse.

It is my belief that the technological revolution has debased the quality of life. At some stage, the speed of change within technology will overtake our ability to keep up with it (if it hasn’t already). Look what is happening today. If I was a manufacturer of dvd equipment, I wouldn’t be too worried about my machines becoming unreliable after a couple of years. This is because there is a very good chance the equipment will be obsolete in that time and a ‘better’ product will replace it completely. Also, cheaper goods mean that it is not worth repairing faulty goods but simply replacing them.

What is this mentality doing to our culture, lifestyle, outlook and sense of history? At one time, a house builder would have it in the back of their mind that the house they were building had to last at least 100 years. That meant that every item installed into the fabric of the building was evaluated on this basic assumption. The builder would disregard any material that he considered unable to pass this criterion. Today, with turbo charged innovation, a builder, who is used to his electronic equipment becoming obsolete after a couple of years, considers house building in a new light. How long is the house supposed to last? Usually the term of the mortgage, so 25 – 30 years is the new minimum. After that time, building regulations will have moved on so much that houses built today will be considered worthless. Solar panels will have to be built as standard, wind turbines where appropriate, equally so.

The upshot is, that we fill our material lives  with disposable trash, designed to fall apart after a couple of years. Our vision of the future becomes increasingly short sighted. Nobody will want to build anything of quality as regards technological equipment because it simply isn’t worth it. Our culture will suffer too. Everyone will speak in Twitter sentences, art will be maximised for 15 minutes of fame, music will be ‘enhanced’ for a once only listen. Technology is supposed to be our servant, not our master.

4 Responses to “Technology has done me no favours”

  1. Ivor Tymchak says:

    Yes, I am aware of the irony of publishing this on the internet.

  2. Harrison says:

    Hi Ivor

    Hope you’re well.

    Are you familiar with the writing of Tom Hodgkinson, editor of The Idler magazine?

    Your recent blog entry reminded me of his stuff, some of which can be found here:

    http://www.theecologist.org/blogs_and_comments/commentators/Tom_Hodgkinson/archive/

    His books are worth checking out too.

    Harrison

  3. Ivor Tymchak says:

    Thanks Harrison. Yes I am familiar with his work and recently read, ‘How to be free’ by him. It’s a good, well written, thought provoking book. I’m almost living the life he advocates.

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