The proper use of technology is that it should be a means to serve us and make our lives easier. A key requirement is that we should be in control. We should not serve technology and allow our gadgets to control our lives, social skills or decisions. When this happens, it can endanger the proper development of the personality and hamper the social relationships needed for life together in society.
How much each can be exposed to technology depends upon the individual. Each person needs to perceive there is a point, where we ourselves feel “standardized” and “mechanized.” We need to be able stop and assess the degree of technology that we can accept and still retain control of our personality. Then we must take measures to establish that line beyond which we cannot cede an inch lest it harm our development.
The first wave of the wireless revolution was getting people to talk to each other through cellphones. The second, it seems, will be getting things to talk to each other, with no human intervention: cars that talk to your insurance company s computers, bathroom scales that talk to your phone, and electric meters that talk to your air conditioners. (Photo: AP/Manu Fernandez)
The need to make this assessment can be seen in all sorts of gadgets and systems that illustrate just how intrusive technology has become. These often exploit vices and obsessions that lead many to act in a manner contrary to their well-being or personality.
There is, for example, a system called IPourIt in which bar patrons no longer have the human contact of a bartender but dispense their own beer, wine, or other drinks from taps and pay by the ounce. It turns the drinking experience into an almost mechanical experience. An electronic wristband records how much volume of any drink taken from the taps on the wall, and can even prevent the person from drinking too much based on the person’s height and weight.
There are gambling establishments that install face recognition software on their slot machines. When a regular gambler starts to leave, his favorite slot machines will call out his name asking him to return.
We might also mention video game addiction that present actions so exciting that young men spend hours upon hours playing them even to the point of not eating or sleeping.
There is something terribly wrong with systems that control a person’s behavior and play upon his impulses, addictions and vices.
Where do we draw the line? Here are five ways to perceive the bad effects of technology in our lives. There are also general suggestions as to what a person can do to draw the line.
- We know something is wrong when we prefer to deal with a machine rather than a person. It usually means we have become like a machine and demand machine like responses from others. We should make a special effort to engage with humans in certain transactions and contacts.
- A problem exists when we cannot do without a machine for over 24 hours. It means the gadget has become a point of obsession and needs to be controlled. We should establish times—and even long periods—where we refrain from using our devices.
- There is something wrong when our use of technological gadgets blocks out our perception of the world. This means we have become so self-absorbed that we ignore others. We should attempt to expand horizons beyond our devices by looking for more personal ways to find out what is happening around us such as discussing regularly world events with others.
- Something needs to be done when we experience difficulty communicating and expressing our personality to others because of excessive technology use. This means we are losing the notion of nuance and spontaneity that characterize human action. We should then reassess whether we should use at all those offending devices especially video game consoles that become obsessive.
- There is a problem when we feel a mania for speed and a nausea for reflection. It means that we experience difficulty in enjoying those truly human and proportional spiritual pleasures and joys like conversation, art, and silence. We must then make an effort to slow down our lives and thus reacquire a taste for those joys that give meaning to life.
Some might ask why we should bother drawing the line. We not let technology control our lives. We owe it to ourselves to draw the line. It is a matter of having sufficient love and self-respect that we need to protect ourselves and our personalities from being absorbed by technology. We owe to our neighbors who will suffer from our impersonal dealings with them. We owe it to God Who gave us our lives with the freedom to develop ourselves toward perfection and sanctity and not be enslaved by abusive technology.
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