Don’t get me wrong, there are things I like about technology but I don’t necessarily equate technological advances with human progress. For the purpose of brevity, we will stick with cellphones as the example of the regression of human society.
I tend to be a late adopter of any new gadgetry. In fact, my first cell phone was issued to me by the Marine Corps. It has the dubious distinction of being the technology which introduced me to the convenience of receiving bad news twenty four hours a day. It also ensured I can never, ever be left alone without a valid excuse. “SgtMaj, what do you mean you were at the zoo and accidentally dropped your phone into a jar of peanut butter which was then devoured by a polar bear?”
Proponents of cell phones claim it allows people better communication. I disagree. How come when I see two people walking down the street together they are inevitably both on the phone with someone else?
Most of the time on the phone we don’t even get to speak to another human anyway. Usually I end up spending five minutes scrolling through audio menus which never have a selection for what I’m calling about to begin with. Conversely, whenever I talk to a human they usually (not always) understand what I want.
For some time I’ve questioned the benefit of cyber technologies which allow people to communicate to online friends across the globe yet remain ignorant of the names of their next door neighbors. It’s as if immersing oneself in your own personal electronic bubble gives us license to shut out our immediate reality.
As Marines we are taught to be situationally aware of our surroundings. I was in a crowded coffee shop last weekend and noted nearly everyone was obliviously staring down at their phone. If someone were to suddenly choke on a scone I fear the only reaction may have been to complain about the corpse blocking access to the condiments. Stepping over a body in order to add cinnamon to their venti-soy-no-foam-mochachino-peppermint-latte might be too much to bear.
If anything, I feel the advent of new technologies hasn’t done anything to support the erroneous concept of the “basic goodness of mankind.”
You may disagree, that’s cool. Feel free to write me a letter about it. The U.S. Postal Service could use the business.