Sunday, April 27, 2008

Technology: Freedom Force or Evil Overlord?

I came down with some kind of plague on Sunday, so I'm not feeling very creative or energetic. I've decided to do a follow-up to an earlier post titled, "The Technology Assembly Line." Last month I had my class look at Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry murals as part of our studies around the idea of perception. I really believe this image is about the interplay between humans and their own creations. In that light, I asked my students to use their own perceptions in a 10-minute writing exercise based on the prompt, "Does technology give us freedom, or does it imprison us?" Here are some unedited passages from their writing (warts and all). It represents a mix of students from freshmen all that way up to seniors. This is a long post, so get ready for some reading...

"I think it imprisons us because when you look at how everything is working these days its more machine then people. All the work that used to be done by people is mostly done with machines not saying it’s a bad thing because things are produced quick but I think that is one way it imprisons us. Another thought is when you play games or something of that sort you can only do so much and go so far once it’s over it’s over. Also think of all the hours people put into playing games a lot and in that way it also imprisons us. Older generations didn’t have all the neat and cool things that we have today because of technology but personally I would rather live in those days then these days now because it seems the more technology we get the less we as people can do. Thinking of this painting you see a lot of people in that factory and today you wouldn’t see three quarters of that number of workers."

"Technology only sets a few aspects of our lives “free” while our body rots "I know that if my Dad took my Zune or computer away that I would be very pissed off at him. Myspace, My Zune, My computer and my DS have me and my sisters wrapped around their non existent fingers... I’m pretty sure that there is already technology that the government has that we could never dream about having. In the picture I see people wearing themselves out to make an engine for a car. It makes me laugh at how we get so intense about the things that next year, we will find them in thrift stores and the new thing will be out."

"Gaming has created puny or obese people and what good is that? IMing lets cowards become “strong” but only with words, not actions (unless you call hacking and viruses action). Our morals are released due to privacy and we become what we want. We don’t pay any attention to what it might do to our economy or the health of our bodies and minds. The only people who benefit from the development of technology is the developers, they are the ones thinking and working. But the public takes what the developers make without even being thankful. The public wants everything faster, better, cheaper and easier. But isn’t something that takes time, grows and has true meaning the only thing valuable? We just might lose any type of value or morality to us because of the rapid growth of that like a weed technology has morphed into."

"The fact that some people can’t find anything to do with their lives besides level up another blood elf paladin is a troubling thought. What ever happened to being productive? This American generation is going to let all of their freedoms slip through their fingertips because there is no physical protest. Kids are learning to vent through blogs and people protest by signing online petitions that hold no meaning. Our freedoms will be taken away slowly until we have none left. This is how technology imprisons us."

"During spring break I was in California with my cousins and one of them brought his wii with him, and I couldn’t believe how many hours they would spend playing it, when the beach was only five minutes away, they played for two days straight only stopping to eat and sleep and they didn’t even want to do that."

"If the world were to suddenly stop producing electricity most of the world would be in chaos. To some people the world be very difficult and they would actually have to work. For example look at a tribe on Africa or some where else that is poor they have no or very little, if we were to give them a TV or a computer they would use it very little because they have lived there whole life off the land."

"We are able to scan distant stars, probe the depths of the ocean, and construct buildings that seem taller than the sky. But in many ways, technology has also severely harmed our lives as well. Weapons capable of destroying entire cities are constructed in mass quantities every day, despite the fact that there are very few hostile countries left in the world who pose a direct military threat to us and our allies. Pollution is rampant in many parts of the world, and our efforts to curb it have been less than half of what they should be. Technology may make our lives easier on the outside, but the consequences are what matters most. After all, nothing in this world comes without a catch."

"It may give us freedom and power, but I believe that it imprisons us even more. I know that I most likely couldn’t go one day without technology. I love computers, and I love my cell phone, which means that I love electricity, and technology. I use it everyday, without thinking how it’s affecting me or the world even. I guess I can kind of be a zombie about it. Every morning, I reach over to my night table, and I get my cell phone and check my messages. I do it without thinking. I think that this artist was trying to tell people that if we continued going on like this, using technology everyday, all the time, then we wouldn’t be able to live without it soon enough."

"... technology takes up about 80% of my day. I play video games with my brothers, I watch TV with my mom, I go on the computer and talk to people, I text and play games on my cell phone… It’s hard not to because those things are all so readily available to me. I do go outside and jump on my trampoline or play basketball, but that’s only for like 30 minutes or an hour a day. If I am up for 17 hours a day, I shouldn’t be so occupied with all these things. I don’t do my homework sometimes, I don’t read, I stay up too late some days. So I would say it definitely has me trapped."

"I myself love technology. But, I can’t think that if I didn’t like technology so much, video games for example, I would be a lot farther in life. I would have better grades; I would be a lot more physically active; I would have more of a social life. I think many people are like me too."

"I feel that with the way things are now it gives us more opportunity for freedom but essentially technology has imprisoned us. We act completely lost when we are cut off from power or our car dies or the cable goes out. We have undermined our instincts and gone completely against nature. Human kind has become a machine itself eating away at the earth, pushing away all the other creatures on it. We should be able to use what we need and not kill off any innocent creatures while doing so. Without technology we would not have fumes spewing into our air and we wouldn’t have to worry about our computers being hacked or about being harassed over the internet."

"... there are games through technology that are fun to play, like guitar hero, or super smash bros. But then at times there are instances were people will begin to become too into the game or certain technology. They could get to the point where they stay home all day just on the computer. My brother used to play this game called RuneScape along with some of his buddies. I would remember walking in on them playing it and they would be so blank and out of it, to the point where I could possibly go up to them and easily push them down or something. It’s almost like if you aren’t enjoying your life as it is, you can go and escape to another world that you feel you fit more into."

"One thing brought to my attention in the picture was it’s resemblance to a social hierarchy. The Gods at the top could be considered the rich, lazy, ones who ultimately own the world of technology while the others of us serve them. I think many are blind to the real impact and potential consequences to our indulgence on the technology and media and those who can refrain from this indulgence can find freedom, while others, who don’t have control over themselves are unconsciously allowing themselves to become prisoners to technology."

There are some tasty literary nuggets in this writing! I'm constantly amazed at how lucid young people are regarding the reality of the world. We need to give these young-uns more credit for what they know.


Miles Inada said...

Insightful and interesting stuff--could make for some wild research.

bluelikethesky said...

Lucky students you have!

So can I put you on my blog roll?