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On the 7th of January @EWNupdates posted an interesting question on Twitter which got an even more interesting reply:

The statement that we have become more barbaric with technological advancement surprised me. I wondered if this was a consensus view so I threw it out on Facebook.  The responses to the question indicated some agreement with this view but certainly not by all.

This is probably one of those issues that needs an in depth study and it won’t be satisfactorily dealt with in a short blog post but since it’s my blog I’ll indulge myself and give my opinion.

Before dealing with the issue of technological advancement there is the question: Is modern society more barbaric than it has been? While I concede there are far too many issues of barbarism that we see every day, I disagree that we are “more barbaric”. We have come a long way since medeval practices where death  was a way of life, where social advacement was impossible and life was generally awful.

As for advancement, every major advance is met with suspicion and scorn. We know what happened to poor Galileo for suggesting the sun, not the earth, was the centre of the solar system and the idea that blood circulated around the body was met with scorn when first proposed. Despite all efforts to dampen human curiosity we have progressed.

I contend that the reason so many people are uncomfortable with modern technology is simply the rate of advancement.  We had a few hundred years to get used to the idea that we orbit the sun. However it seems we have just days or weeks or get used to new ideas before there is a further leap.  Just 14 years ago there was no proof that planets existed outside our solar system. In just 2 years over 2000 planets have been discovered with scientific knowledge informing us that there are probably over 200 billion just in our galaxy.

It’s a breathtaking ride to be alive today with so much change. We human’s seem to strive for  progress and resist change in equal measure so when we so much change it can be overwhelming.

And, of course when it comes to confronting barbarism we must acknowledge the roll that technology plays in exposing such abuse. Two months ago pictures circulated Facebook showing a man abusing his dog. He was scorned the world over within just days. I believe he lived in Brazil. His bararism was exposed the world over. Never made the greater impact of regime change in Egypt ignited and coordinated through Facebook.

We certainly not moving toward a utopia where the world is all glitter and cupcakes but I would argue that technology is a necessary civilizing influence.

1 Response Comment

  • AngeloFebruary 13, 2013 at 8:11 pm

    I actually meant to respond to this a while ago but totally forgot. I came back now because I thought of how ignorant it is for someone to claim that technology has perpetuated social barbarism.

    The fact of the matter is, anyone who believes this doesn’t understand what the internet really is, and how much technology has given them. It’s hypocritical to use technology to bash technology.

    The problem isn’t really that things have gotten more barbaric. It’s that publication is easy. You can read every single bad news story from everywhere in the world, you can listen to people’s problems half way around the globe, and you don’t have to stop sitting.

    The amazing thing is that technology has made it possible for people to actually have a grip on vested interests. People can debate. Information is freely available and open. Anyone who would call Wikipedia an influence in the degradation of society would be called crazy.

    Sure, Facebook and Twitter may spark some stupid debates. You might find racism and hate speech on forums. But that doesn’t mean that’s the sum total of the internet. The capabilities of cheap, easy and instant communication is worth a lot more than people think.

    Rather than using technology to blame technology, I’d suggest criticizers of the modern age criticize vested interest groups and governments who want to ban open internet for the threat it poses to widely available information.

    Reply

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