new Things I Ate in Cambodia: Technology is Evil: Really?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Technology is Evil: Really?

Technology is Evil - Really?

One of my first loves.

I'm getting increasingly freaked out by my generations luddite tendencies. Yes, that's right: my wired, internet loving, cell phone obsessed peers really really like to comment on the evils of technology when stuck in, say, a college philosophy course. Huh? What's with the backlash?

Maybe I should provide a little of my own background first.

I attended a Waldorf school during my high school years. For those of you who don't know, Waldorf is a "alternative" education system that looks upon technology with extreme suspicion - parents in the lower grades are encouraged with extreme seriousness to keep their kids away from TV and videos and video games at all costs, because Bad Things will happen. The school let up on these directives a bit in high school - we even had a decent computer lab- but there was definitely an aura of tech-distrust wafting around the premises. That didn't stop us: we all had Ipods, highly advanced cell phones, laptops, and the other trappings of modern teenager-hood, Waldorf or no Waldorf.

This is what I was looking at for most of my childhood.

I grew up as a very proud geek and have quite a few happy childhood memories of playing classic video games (Oh, SimCity 2000...) and watching excellent cartoons when I got home from school. I also spent a whole lot of time playing outside. Surprisingly, I don't think the two are in any way mutually exclusive.

Furthermore, I was pretty socially isolated when I hit 13 or 14, and I maintain the internet helped me out immensely. I'd moved to a new city at that time, and had never had the best social skills. I managed to find a community for myself on the internet and formed a tight group of online friends, people I could confide in, joke around with, and really care about.

I even met quite a few of them in person, and, surprisingly enough, I was not murdered/tossed in a white pedophile van/indoctrinated into a cult. I hate reading about parents who tightly restrict their nerdy kids time on the internet and interactions with others. Internet communities are such a great, indispensable resource for the lonely and awkward, and I believe they saved me a lot of emotional pain n' suffering growing up. (I grew up to be relatively normal and, help me God, a total party animal, so a few years of internet socializing didn't warp me.)

So I repeat: what's with the backlash? Maybe I just happen to find myself in wonky classes, but I've heard "technology is evil" sentiments from a good majority of kids my age in a lot of different settings. The argument seems to be that internet friends and cell phones are somehow cutting down on our social bonds with each other, making us more disconnected and alienated from one another then ever before. Others believe that blogs don't count as "actual writing" (you can imagine how that one chaps my ass, ahem.) I've heard kids (and professors) claim that reading something on the internet is not actually reading though I remain uncertain as to how that actually works.

The most vehement arguments come from plainly non-geeky types advocating against internet social networks, which really pisses me off. Just because you personally have not found yourself in need of a social life beyond that offered in your school or community doesn't mean you've got a right to piss on or critique those of us whose butts were saved by Internet talkin'.

These same kids remain attached at the eardrum to their cellphones, which leads me to believe a bit of guilt might be in play here. I also think they're doing themselves a heck of a disservice in the coming (gnarly) job market by pretending to be distrustful of technology. I work in the women's studies department computer lab and got my job directly as a result of my unabashed geekiness.

My boss mentioned that she hired me because I was the only "real" girl geek she'd come across in a long time. She feels that true unashamed geeks seem to be diminishing in numbers. We couldn't figure out exactly why, but my theory is that the internet's access to pretty much everyone has taken away some of its outsider appeal. Technology is open to everyone but being conversant in it has lost of its mystique - which is a real shame.

I am wed to technology and would not be able to function normally without it. I admit it and am unashamed. Technology and computers have allowed me to meet amazing people from around the world, voice my opinions to a lot of unwitting observerors, learn about zillions of interesting esoteric subjects, and (perhaps most importantly) amuse the snot out of myself in times of boredom and duress. If there's something wrong with being a tech geek, then I don't wanna be right.

1 comment:

KirkK said...

Hi Faine - SimCity 2000 was a favorite of mine....thanks for the memories!