The Power of Technology
The Legend of Baggar Vance author Steven Pressfield once said, “It may be that the human race is not ready for freedom. The air of liberty may be too rarefied for us to breathe.” Nowhere is this more true than in the realm of technology, where our choices determine whether technology is a drug or a boon. While technology has ground-breaking benefits and serious detrimental consequences, we need to be disciplined in order to harness technology’s true potential. Technology has transformed education, business, and charity.
For the first time, one does not have to be rich to obtain a world-class education, for sites such as Coursera and edX allow anyone with an internet connection to take Ivy League classes for free. TED.com shares ground-breaking ideas from the greatest innovative and humanitarian minds, while Google Books allows anyone to access Harvard’s vast libraries online as well as almost every other book ever written. Technology has also changed the playing field of business.
The internet allows entrepreneurs to operate global businesses from a home laptop, which means that people who otherwise would be confined to the home, such as stay-at-home moms, can now run their own enterprises. Charity, too, has been transformed. Through the internet, people from around the world can come together for a common cause and crowd-fund. For example, the Harry Potter Alliance recently raised $123,000 to send five planes’ worth of supplies for Haiti relief. Clearly, technology has transformed the landscape of our lives.
While technology possesses many ameliorating qualities, several alarming downsides also exist. For example, social media costs our economy $650 billion dollars a year in lost productivity. Studies show that tweets, emails, and texts interrupt workers every 10.5 minutes, and that it takes another 23 minutes to refocus. According to New Yorker staff writer Malcolm Gladwell, interruptions cause people to make twice as many mistakes and take twice as long to complete their work.
Technology is even damaging our toddlers. A disturbing study reveals that an increasing number of toddlers are addicted to iPads because the parents use the device as a pacifier. These babies throw tantrums and become inconsolable when their devices are confiscated. When Babies.co.uk surveyed 1,000 parents, one in seven admitted they allowed their toddlers to use their iPads or smartphones for more than four hours a day.
Most college students are also addicted to technology. The average college student spends three hours on social networking and two hours studying, which causes their GPA to drop a whole point. According to a University of Maryland study, a “clear majority” of 1,000 college students from twelve campuses in ten countries experienced withdrawal symptoms similar to those of drug addicts when forced to avoid their gadgets and social media for 24 hours. They felt anxious, irritable, and depressed. Some “itched like a crackhead,” while others wandered around their apartments aimlessly opening up cupboards. Clearly, technology possesses severe drawbacks.
While technology has ground-breaking advantages and serious detrimental drawbacks, we need to control our usage in order to grasp technology’s true potential. Human ingenuity has created a superpower that can change the world. Like any power, if we do not control it, it will control us. We hold that power in our hands.