EDTC 400 Technology’s Control

Technology and its’ control over how we as humans function is a fascinating topic to both think and talk about. Katia started off with an interesting opening to the topic through last weeks lecture. I think we often forget that it was not long ago that most of us had maybe one form of social network that we used. Nowadays many of us have several social networking platforms that we use every single day. It’s a strange think about billions of people being connected through these devices, even to think about this very class (EDTC 400) and the methods and technology we use to accomplish our weekly tasks.

I found Sherry Turkle’s TED Talk “Connected, but Alone?” very interesting and informative. She references her daughter who always “sleeps with her phone” and I find that true when looking at my life. My phone is usually never an arms length away even when I am going to sleep. Phones change who we are. They change the way we behave out in the real world. If we are on our phone there is no way that we can be giving someone who is talking to us our full and undivided attention. Yet at work during a presentation or classes or even a funeral people can be found on their phones. I found it very sad when she talked about the 18 year old boy who wanted to learn how to have a real conversation. I feel sorry for today’s youth that have been brainwashed into thinking that talking to someone through text correlates to real life social interaction. That texting someone is spending time with someone when really it’s just making a more lonely generation. We are living “edited” versions of our life because we can filter entire conversations. I often like to think of this in terms of building a false character within ourselves. We have these “perfect” conversations with people where we have time to think of the wittiest/clever responses to whatever is said. Then we wonder why people have so much social anxiety when they eventually have to go talk to that same person in the real world and live up to this false personified person they built through these conversations.

When she talked about Siri becoming someone that could eventually become our best friend I had to laugh. It makes me think of a movie I watched a couple years ago. It was called “Her” and the entire movie is about a man who ends up falling in love with an artificial intelligence. He builds his life around this relationship he has with this AI only to be crushed when he finds out that his relationship he has with this AI is being shared with other users of the same device. We turn to technology to connect but in the end it makes us feel all the more alone. Just like in Neil Postman’s article/talk “technology giveth and technology taketh away.” There are the winners and the losers and they winners use technology to make the losers feel like winners.

In conclusion I have to say that although I learned some new perspectives on the ways we use technology it does not change any thought I have about technology. To many of us technology is a virtual crutch that many of us lean onto for social acceptance and things that we could easily find in the real world if we applied the effort. The next step is finding a way to break away from this addictive technology and find a way to get the same feelings that we crave from the pleasures of the everyday world.