WinterABC
FEATURE

The Cautionary Tale of Modern Technology

This article has been reblogged from the Write Edition as a feature post for day 8 of our 2019 Winter Blogging Challenge -#WinterABC.

Technology is neither a curse or a blessing. It is a tool that gets us by, with varying degrees of the lengths it can take to get us by.  Like with any tool, it can be used or abused.    

You can’t mention technology without bringing up a Black Mirror episode. The British anthology science fiction Netflix hit brilliantly portrays the moral conflict of the dangers of modern or emerging technology. It examines our relationship with technology in a deeply unsettling manner, cautiously reminding us that we are getting closer to the World of Black Mirror.     

I tend to imagine, however, that the world has grown this much because of the technological advances at our disposal. There’s no denying that the advent of technology has shaped our world, improved our living standards and simplified the way we get things done.   

Modern technology has improved the way learning is conducted and processed, reduced mortality rates, cut down the amount of time we spend moving from one point to another, simplified the way humans and businesses speed up flow of information using modern tools, improved home entertainment, eased up money transfers, increased production at the workplace, provided space for and nurtured creative expression.   

We have experienced heavy reliance and emerging resistance towards this essential tool. The reasons in favour of technology are the exact reasons against it making it a double-edged sword. For example, while social media helps us to stay connected, it keeps us from having one-on-one interactions. Unsurprisingly now, people glorify isolation and alienation as long as they don’t get to deal with human interactions.   

With ease of access to information, humans are easily distracted when scouring through the internet. One quick Google search and you find yourself deep in the throes of an Instagram aesthetic, furiously double tapping. How do we then rediscover the pleasures of reading in an age of distraction? Alan Jacobs has a few ideas.   

The heavy reliance on modern technology as a form of escapism cannot be overstated. Humans are having less real-life experiences or less understanding of the world surrounding them due to Social Media Addiction. The monopoly of telcos such as Safaricom has seen a nationwide network outage cripple business operations, recording losses in millions within minutes.   

Enhanced efficiency and productivity have been fronted as the only way to live. While I’m firmly grounded in productivity, I cannot ignore the messaging packaged by our capitalism friends over there.  So at what point do the trappings of modernity become a pain point? When do humans misuse the power of this gift of the information age?   

Online influence and approval have become a determining factor in the way we consume things for the body, mind and soul. The opinion of a stranger miles and miles away from you on certain aspects of your life far outweighs the one from someone who has known you for ages.   

The companies we entrust our livelihoods with are now big on data mining. The easy access to the information you willingly (or not) give out is sold to the highest bidder for commercial and sometimes even security purposes. Our own information has placed us at risk.

The spread of fake news and misinformation without verifying sources and the spread of alarmist messages have driven the conversation on the Internet. This is where gullibility and human fear poses a great danger of weaponizing modern technology.   

I do not think we are approaching the distraction levels of Black Mirror. But such series once in while reminds us to take caution of how we navigate the systems that advance our innovations.   

If used in moderation, it works for exactly what it is was intended for. If used the right way, it works. We just have to define the parameters and become critical of our relationship with the devices that run our lives.   

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