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When Technology Does More Harm Than Good

Posted by Contributor

  society tech

11 min read | 3127 words | 186 views | 0 comments

We've all seen that person — perhaps he or she is waiting at a bus stop or perhaps in line at the drycleaners to pick up a beaver-pelt coat. Yet, there he or she is, looking down at a minuscule little screen, fingers tauntingly trained to remain invisible with motion to make life as a recluse complete. How did we get here? Has technology gone too far? How much technology is too much, and how do we know when and where to draw the line? If for some reason, you are not already subjectively guilty to the nature depicted beforehand, then I congratulate thee for remaining rooted in discipline, a humble member of society serving in and of itself. Unfortunately, the number is fewer and fewer with each passing moment, a warning to those who are adamant in social interaction and the traditional code human values that their time has passed. Is there any way to reverse this tragedy? Is it too late? And how can you avoid being perceived as a hermit in an increasingly technologically connected world? The answers are so simple that it's difficult to comprehend the consequences of our actions. But by all means, we are to blame and that is of itself perhaps the worst thing about this. It is a reminder of how very astray an improvement can go and how too much of a great thing can become poison.

My fellows who, coincidentally, share these recollections and in hindsight, feel the times behind us, have all offered perhaps countless explanations for the pickle that the world has dug itself into. The most infamous explanation is the classical vintage depiction of the American on-the-go, and how Mr. Hilton himself, like any other good businessman, snatched at the oppurtunity that followed when those who ventured ventured further, and those who stayed stayed longer. Where did this all begin?

The Hearth of the Toxicant

Ask anyone you know, and chances are, if they are not too stingy themselves, they will tell you that portability, and portability within a man himself, well-deserves a righteous reputation as the igniter of this war. Perhaps, if we were not so mobilized, not always around and about and in out, we would not find ourselves in such a desperate predicament today. Often times, a lesson is learned after the fact, but today it is best you learned the lesson first — that portability when mixed with technology, produces disastrous results, and that such a recipe in combination with an entrepreneur can never produce good results. Indeed, if portability is to be quoted the igniter of these flames, then capital profit has stoked the fire greatly, bringing past the event horizon the emotions of the human species as simply as if they were a fabric to toy with. Let us examine the impacts of these inducing variations within society today, and perhaps a better understanding of what is to be done afterwards may ensue and replicate itself amongst us all.

The Telephone

Alas, perhaps one of the greatest technologically advanced inventions from centuries past still in use today that will still be in use tomorrow. Many people would consider the cellular/mobile telephone to be a rapid advancement in telecommunications, but those people would be wrong. This apparent suggestion will all make sense in due time, for reasons that appear rather contradictory. It is would be an insult to Alexander Graham Bell's memory to dismiss these facts without entertaining the notions of the numerous advancements that preceded the mobile telephone — while most of these are without a doubt, a representation of the genius hidden within our soul, should we endeavor to retrieve it, those that follow are perhaps the very soured leftovers of the realms of Satan within all of us.

To describe the various innovations that the telephone encountered over the years with be rather long and somniferous, so instead I will focus on the most recent developments. Perhaps the oldest telephone variation we still have, in various locations, in use today, would be the rotary telephone. As this article is an analysis, and not a historical archive, such details that reminisce the likes of the model will be avoided. It is a fair argument to say that the rotary telephone suffered from an inability to dial asynchronously, and such a problem was what the touch-tone telephone solved. Recent modifications to the touch-tone telephone have not carried it further than flattening the base, compacting the base, and standardizing the instrument on your desk today. This is as far as the telephone has taken us.

While mobile phones were conceived as an extension and as an advancement of the telephone for various reasons, however humble those intentions were cannot be felt in the likes of the aftermath today. It is no longer prudent to suggest that cellular phones are innovations of the telephone, but rather a completely separate instrument themselves. The worst is yet to come — for taking the very intentions of the instrument and warping them in a way to warp its user and its form factor, is exactly what has happened.

Let us reflect on these recollections — A man and his brother, dining with their wives in a stucco house; the greeting of your siblings when you entered the house; the marvel of the falling autumn leaves, and the reflections and recollections of these events as the seasons pass; the talk that lovers had upon their first date; the humanitarian interactions we upheld all these years — where have they gone and what has become of them? The telephone enabled us to connect with loved ones and friends on an individualized basis — we could hear their voice, and talk fluently and with passion, and distractions at the time were unheard, a gentle seed not yet sowed but one that would be reaped with innovation. The telephone has itself, committed no crime, and to subject the culprit in question to classification among its brethren would be hostile, yet, that is the path many of us have chosen to take, one that is working silently but presently to destroy our quality of life and waste countless human lives away.

In these times, the distinction between mobile telephones and cellular telephones is a fuzzy one, but one nonetheless that persists. Our communicate among our friends and family have changed so very much so very quickly, and if one were to classify into three stages the principle instruments, they would find it quite easy. For as long as humanity has persisted, there has been the word of mouth, directly and indirectly. There has of course been the passing of knowledge, generations to generations past. And relatively recent in the human scale of time, the post has enabled us to send our messages to those in an organized system. This was a blissful period, but it was not ideal. In the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century, the tables turned with the mainstream availability of the telephone. For those of us not so young in our number of years, we can laugh with ourselves when we remember the party-lines, the conversations, and those adieu. These were the times, my friend, the times when it was not too late, nor too early. It was not too far, yet not too close. And it was not too so, but just enough. These were the times.

The third stage, being a relatively recent one, has tainted the hardest the youngest generations. The mobile phones, complete with the evolution to the smartphone, has presented a case like no other. So obsessed are we, so tainted and varnished with shame, that we must divulge into such a way of life. I think it would be fair to suggest that mobile devices are a fad, one that will pass as time itself does, not perhaps to the extent of those with which it shall retire, but a little more so than inventions past that we have all but forgotten about. When we look at our way of life, it quickly becomes apparent that we are not fooling anyone. The desktop computer is, today, "the computer", and to suggest that it shall not persist that way would be the suggestion of a drunken man with little life left in his years. When computers finally filtered through to the household level, and became a popular commodity among ourselves as a way of increased productivity, suggesting in public that one day, we would have to charge our computers every night would mean coming home with a blotchy face, not yet healed from the scars of scornful admonition. And pray tell, if one were to suggest even as late as the 1980s, that one would be compelled to charge their telephone every night — my friend, I can only dig so many graves! These are the sad truths, proof that now technology has runs its course, and we must deal with the best of it and dismiss the rest.

Take for example, the modern cell phone. Friends are texting each other instead of telephoning their friends like the good old days or meeting with them face to face. Social media has further reduce face-to-face communication between us and our peers. And the telephone itself in these forms has become a weapon of communicable destruction. Whether you like it or not, the telephone is simply that. It was never meant to be modified into anything else, and it would be wise to suggest that it never will in the future. The modern cellphone is not a necessity, or a luxury, but rather the result of a purchase of a drunken man.

Furthermore, the smartphone is hardly a smartphone. The landline telephone, in any of its variations through history, is far more reliable than some would like to believe when making a telephone call. It is a remarkably simple device, requiring only 9 volts of power enabling it to persist operating in the event of a power outage. But it is a remarkably versatile one in the name of humanity, and at best, a tool, never meant to induct its users. The smartphone, on the other hand, would be more properly dubbed the dumbphone. It is much harder to make a telephone call on a mobile phone, and the quality of your call will be much worse. In addition, using a landline can potentially save your life. When calling 911, the operator knows all of your household information already and can dispatch the emergency operators to the site immediately, even if you don't tell them where you live. If you call 911 using a mobile phone, only geographic coordinates are given to them that are not always accurate. Furthermore, your call could be forward to the wrong call center. In an emergency, always use a landline if one is available. Every second is precious, and every second is crucial.

We hold these truths to be true, for the obvious reasons that we have seen their consequences, and are forced to live with them and cope with them now.

The time to take a stance against these malicious behaviors is now. To preserve the delicate nature of human interaction, a team effort is required. For one, the human race as a whole must fully understand the implications of portable mobile devices like smartphones, cellphones, tablets, and smart-watches. While their manufacturers would like you to believe that these devices are "convenient", nothing could be further from the truth. The landline does one thing, and it does it extremely well. The smartphone on the other hand can do a great deal of things — but it can't do any of them well. It isn't better than a telephone, it isn't better than a computer, it isn't better than a watch, and it isn't better than a camera. Sometimes, molding multiple technologies into one causes more harm than one might expect. Let this be a lesson to everyone, not to meddle with the fabric of our technology.

What can do we now before it is too late? For one, if you have a cellphone, chances are you probably don't need it. And if you have a smartphone, we might as well induct you into the Hall of World's Dumbest people. Owing a smartphone can simply not be justified in today's world, and never will be. Smartphones cost more than landlines, and the call quality is worse. Why would you use a smartphone to look something up if there's a computer sitting next to you? The list goes on, and if you can't see these points as valid yet, the time will come when you are mature enough to realize that there are things more important than constantly being connected. I for one, don't see a need for people to be reach me wherever, whenever. If I didn't pick the telephone up, I didn't pick up for a reason. If you need to contact me, send me an email. I'll be happy to respond on my own terms, on my own time. I'd rather spend my time doing something else. And please, have a conversation at the dinner table, instead of trying to worry about spilling food on your stupid little screen. Do the world a favor, and stop acting like a jerk. Not are you using what would be considered practically useless by tech enthusiasts and power users, but you're financially crippling yourself.

The sad truth is this: technology is devolving. Technology was never meant to replace the human experience, but rather to compliment it, and make our lives easier. There's a point when too much is too much. We all need offline time with no screens around to be looking at. Technology has evolved to a certain point, and in many areas, it has hit its max. You can't replace the desktop computer. You can't replace the landline telephone. You can't replace your wristwatch. So stop trying. Think of the imbeciles who buy a smartwatch. Why did they buy one? Are they so immersed in the technological world that they don't know how to live without it? Do they really like charging their smartwatch every night rather than buying a watch with a 10 year battery and saving a bunch of money? Technology in and of itself is not sad, but these facts are. Many people can no longer control their technology, and their cravings for it. To them, their online and offline worlds have blurred. Smartwatch users need to be notified the second that someone emails them, even if it's 1AM. Does this make sense?

If you still don't see the danger of using mobile technology, bear with me and read the rest of this article before you flip me off and start wasting the rest of your day on social media. You need to understand the difference and understand the fine-line between Progressive and Regressive technology. There's a number of things that will tip you off, as to what category they fall in. Typically, but not always, progressive technology uses solely wires, while regressive technology is often wireless. For example, the telephone and the desktop computer were probably the 2 most prominent examples of progressive technology, because they enhance our lifestyle. Tablets and smartphones are examples of regressive technology because they detract from our lifestyle, are inefficient, waste our time, and cripple the quality of our lifestyle. Laptops and cellphones (basic ones with no Internet capabilities) present a unique conundrum. Laptops are useful if traveling to a remote location or working somewhere there isn't a fixed computer available. In this way, they are progressive. They become regressive when you start using your laptop when a desktop is sitting 3 feet away that you can use. Likewise, a cell phone is progressive if you're calling home from the grocery store and want to know what you forgot, although you probably should have written your list down or printed it out. It becomes regressive if you're using your cell phone at all at home, or at work or school, or if you're using a smartphone or using it for purposes other than telephoning. Texting is a great example of a regressive technology. Email is a good example of progressive technology. But what about your GPS? No, not the smartphone kind or the one built into a smart-car. I mean a real one — these present a unique situation. The GPS was invented so you could navigate to places you had never been to before and don't know how to get to. In this way, the GPS was a progressive technology. However, this becomes a problem and becomes a regressive technology when you use your GPS to navigate to your best friend's house when you've already been there before recently. This means that you're becoming too reliant on technology. Technology was meant to enhance the human experience, not replace part of our brain. There is no excuse and no replacement for learning all of the streets in your area and knowing how to navigate to places you've been before easily. Maybe these skills don't come naturally to you — but you sure shouldn't be using a GPS in your own town unless you're trying out for America's Dumbest Drivers.

If you don't agree with everything in this article, that's fine. One day when you're older, you'll understand. Many of our senior citizens aren't technophobes — they're just much smarter than you. They're not old fashioned. Their fully developed brain can comprehend situations that most teenagers and young adults cannot. And they are truly the technological masters, harnessing the most powerful technology. Who sounds like they have a better grasp on technology — someone who spends an hour trying to type an essay on a tablet, or someone who does it in seven minutes on a computer and then goes out to eat with their friends? There is a life outside of technology, my friends, and there always will be. Remember that portable technology is inferior to stationary, traditional technology, and that it's great it if you're on the go. But when you're using them somewhere that you have progressive technology available, that's a problem. Use technology as it was meant to be used. Avoid smartphones, smartwatches, and smartcars at all costs. They won't make your life any easier, and they'll most likely just make it worse. Do me a favor, and return your smartphone if you have one. If you really need to be contacted on the go, a basic cellphone will do. After all, it isn't an emergency — and if it is, you should probably call 911 (from a landline). Do something now, before it's too late. Control the technology you use on a daily basis. Don't let it control you. After all, if your life is within your technology, and your technology is gone, then who are you? Who are you?

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