January 5, 2009

Technologically Impaired

Posted in culture, family, film, politics, psychology, soup at 6:25 am by Jerry

Picture this: a ‘Jack-of-All-Trades’ father having a philosophizing daydreamer for a firstborn son. Yep, that’s my Dad and me. Here’s another interesting comparison – I’m a ‘Generation X’ guy with a Mennonite heritage, but my ‘Baby-Boomer’ Dad is the gadget man. And my lack of skills with any type of gadget would probably destine me to a passive Luddite lifestyle if it wasn’t for my family’s (wife, Dad, brothers, father-in-law) assistance.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve no moral prohibitions against all uses of technology. I’m aware that there are plenty of ethical uses of all sorts of machinery. If our collection of gadgets fill our bank accounts instead of draining them, and the mechanical world around us requires far less of our time than we require of it, fire up the machines!

But when the power of machinery is in the hands of governments and corporations, I become suspicious.

To me, it seems like they use technology to provide easy (and sometimes far from easy!) access to their product/service without a human face that actually responds to me, the citizen/customer. Sometimes I feel like I’m treated as a preconceived, computer generated, version of the average customer/citizen… And there’s no time or interest in a conversation about the transactions being made.

(Before I go any further, I suppose those who think the mediums of blogging and emailing to be too cold and relationally distant may deem this post ‘ironic’ and ‘contradictory’. I’ve heard it said more than a few times that ‘this kind of technology is used to segregate oneself from society’. However, comparing blogging and emailing with face to face communication might make it seem that way, but even face to face communication can be used in the coldest and most relationally distant way, segregating one’s vulnerability from any listener just two feet away. Blogging and emailing is, in fact, another way to share one’s vulnerabilities with those you know and those you have yet to know.)

And so, my concern is the question of unhealthy versions of segregation in our technologically advanced society. Because I know there are times and places in our lives when/where we need to segregate ourselves from part of the world. Be it with our families, with just our spouses, or a moment of solitude. Sometimes segregation can, I think, be equated with solace.

In the meantime, my impression of our attempt to progress as a technological society is missing some important human factors. Mainly, in the manner of communication between ourselves and governments or corporations. But this may be more of a personal issue than a public one. I don’t know. After all, I’m the one who is ‘Technologically Impaired’.

P.S. – here’s a somewhat related video that I find myself playing now and then, for some odd reason. 😛

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