Last week’s column offered some insights on technological evolution. I remarked that, “Technological evolution is progressing at a much faster pace than our own personal evolution in knowing what to do with it. Philosophical evolution is seriously lagging technological evolution. If our philosophy curve is losing ground to our technology curve – and it is – it seems pretty logical that we will suffer from not knowing how best to utilize technology.”
I will focus on that now.
Technology gives us marvelous tools but that is what they are, tools. A tool’s value comes from the way in which we use it. The existence of a tool does not mean we should use it, just because it is there.
Smartphones and social websites are a good example of this. Used well, they are tools that can positively increase communication, add to personal happiness and ramp up productivity in the workplace. Misuse them and the opposite is true.
Say I am a salesperson. I am on my way to an appointment. I receive a text on my smartphone. Responsibly, I do not look at it while driving. When I have a chance, I pull off the road and find a safe place to park. I read my message, “Additional prospect. Can meet 3pm. Name ___. Phone ___. Address ___.” Or, at the end of the day, I get this personal message, “Please pick up milk, bread on way home.”
Those are useful texts. However, if we read them while driving, they might end our life or the lives of others. A tool is only as good as the way in which we use it. Then there is this silliness, “@movies, great film, whatcha doin?” Excuse me. You are at a great movie. Why don’t you watch it and enjoy it?
When a tool becomes a distraction, that tool is no longer useful. When a tool is misused, it sends us backwards instead of forwards. To come to these conclusions we have to think about things and their use. We have to develop a personal philosophy about them, taking responsibility for our actions. This means thinking instead of acting robotically. Just because something exists does not mean we should use it. If you attempted to fix everything in your home with a hammer, how would that work for you?
Social websites? They can be a way to keep in touch with friends and family or promote business. Spending too much time on them, without having some kind of operational philosophy – and in the case of business calculating a return on investment – does not seem a likely way to increase happiness or profitability. Updating your page multiple times a day with tidbits like, “Triple cheese pizza, yummy!!!” might be time better spent on something else (unless, maybe, you are in the pizza business.)
Using the computer for learning, enjoyment and reasonably keeping in touch with people seems like a good thing. What happens, though, when we sit in front of our smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop for hours on end everyday, aimlessly idling our time? Is that life, or is it some kind of self-induced suspended animation through which we avoid living? Is it healthy? What’s your philosophy about this? Do you have one? Do you think you should?
If technology evolves while our personal development recedes, is that progress? Where we go in life is our choice, not the choice of machines – at least for now. What are we doing about it?
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*Authors note: You might see this column pop up online in a newspaper, under the name Both Sides. I am publishing this column here first at CYInterview.com. For a bunch of years, I have been writing newspaper columns. Since my columns have received a good response on CYInterview, I thought I would share it with you. Hope you enjoy.
You can reach me with your questions and comments at Jay@CYinterview.com Like today’s column? Check back frequently.