But we should remember what technology is — a delivery system, a pump — not our essence, not water itself. Human nature remains constant and predictable while the ever-changing rate of technological growth obscures this insight. That I can talk to Argentina with a four-second dial, or find out how to treat leprosy on the Internet in ten seconds, or be constantly directed by a soothing female voice how to navigate through downtown L.A. does not thereby mean I have any more to say to an Argentinian than my great-great-grandmother might have, or that thereby I would be necessarily more or less willing to drop historic prejudices against lepers, or that I would have any more business in L.A. than did my grandfather with his nine-farmer open party-line, strung along the road with vineyard wire on eucalyptus poles. I could, of course, but that fact would hinge on considerations that might outweigh the speed or ease of my knowledge and decision-making.
I bring all this up because in the last two weeks I heard and read some strange things about how technological changes have transformed our very politics and way of life. . . .
true to an extent — but not to the extent that we think
Cell-phoning simply has accelerated what was — or was not already — there. I like finding the GPS directions to a Starbucks in a strange city, and appreciate those engineers who gave us such options. But coffee is coffee, existence is existence, and if I don’t use my saved time wisely, it is not necessarily any better invested than in stopping and asking directions.
The point is not to denigrate high-tech, but to remind us that it a tool that is as good or bad — to paraphrase Shane — as the person using it. But with one great caveat, today’s glitzy technology is so impressive, so captivating to the human brain that it has the ability to confuse us about master and slave, cause and effect, the pump and water in a way the abacus or the telegraph did not.
Not that I do not like technology, it's it's made the world a better pace, it's fun and it has paid my bills for years. But it is a tool, people are still people. I have the cartoon at top on my desk at work to remind me to be nice to my customers, they may have trouble finding the "any" key, but what they do is far more important than keeping the computers running.
The cartoon is from gapingvoid "Cartoons drawn on the back of business cards."