Technologies Reshape our Lives

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I am going to answer the question: should we be adopting technologies at the pace that we do?

We seem to always desire whatever is faster and newer, without often considering the short- and long-term consequences of those technologies. We have been seduced into believing that technological progress is of the means to a better future. But we should not evaluate technologies simply on the basis of their novelty, or by the gratification they may provide and how they help us accomplish tasks, but rather on how they are affecting our lives.

I have realized that psychic pain and confusion that many experience comes from uncritical adoption of and blind interaction with new technologies. Technologies, rather than simply increasing efficiency, reshape our relationship to the world, pushing and pulling different levers, creating new experiences — and new consequences — that must be better understood so that our use of these technologies does not become dysfunctional.

Because of our failure to understand and control new technology, we have experienced what theorist Marshall McLuhan described in The Medium is the Message: “innumerable confusions and a profound feeling of despair [that] invariably emerge in periods of great technological and cultural transitions.”

McLuhan wrote that in 1967. While perhaps the magnitude of the transition is unique to our time, concerns about psychic stress and concomitant changes in social and cultural relationships from technological transitions are not new.

Because new technologies streamline certain experiences, you mustn’t engage with them maximally, otherwise you will always feel overloaded. You should consider which levers to pull, which aspects of life to reshape and streamline, with new technologies. For instance, maybe we do not always need to be watching TV, watching movies, listening to music, using dating apps, watching YouTube videos, watching pornography, using social media, and for some, playing video games. The psychic costs we face from blind adoption and streamlining are worth avoiding.

If you step back and control these levers, having new technologies improves life. But if we don’t, they take control of our lives.

Slow down and take back control.

Benton Turner