Pitfalls of being high-tech

Pitfalls of being high-tech


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Information & communication technology transforms human beings even as science constantly pushes the edge of technology to heretofore-unknown vistas of time and space.

Alvin Toffler, the foremost futurist of our time, said that because of the rapid advance of technology, people would experience “future shock”–the state of technology is such that people are unable to keep up.

Well, that has happened already (remember the global panic over the “millennium bug” Y2K problem with PCs?), albeit not with the sweeping destructiveness first popularly associated with it.

The question if ICT is a boon or a bane to humanity hardly sparked a debate. People today are either too cynical or jaded to care, or don’t really know what to care about in the first place. Everyone is busy looking out for No. 1 (one’s self), or just trying to survive (which amounts to the same thing–same difference!). Maybe some people thought about it long and hard but could not find the energy to express it. Or may just have let it pass through with nary a twinge of anything intellectually or conscience-wise.

Since the ‘70s when I first heard it, I’ve always thought that people–wittingly or unwittingly, willingly or unwillingly, knowingly or otherwise–just practice the dictum of ‘mind over matter’. That is, if you don’t mind, then it doesn’t matter. With so many things happening in the world, not to mention in our own personal lives, what import does any of this mean to anyone?

None at all, perhaps. For people who have the habit of thinking (as opposed to just reacting), life brings so many surprises (many of which are serendipitous) and shocks (negative and undesirable).

One realization that should not escape everyone (but does, anyway) is that life is too short. Too short for those who have so many reasons to live–but too long for those who don’t.

In general, we all could use a few more years — subject to personal viewpoints and/or reasons. And then, when somebody young and vital in our lives is just suddenly gone, we can’t understand it–it’s just another “senseless loss.” It just underscores the fact that, in the end, we all go there–with no exceptions; it’s how we get to that point that differentiates each of us.

But what this is really trying to say is that, on the journey of life, it is not so much the destination as the journey itself that is the whole point.

Of course, most people know this–which is why they get to enjoy life–much more than other people who slave over everything and feel short-changed in life because they’re still unsatisfied and not contented.

The latter are fixated on the destination–not the journey itself. The former, because they don’t really care about the destination, but more about how they get there (if at all)–get to know what life is really about, and appreciate what it brings (both positive and negative). And then be able to grasp the truth: Life is just a dream–within a dream. (In other words, life is just an illusion.)

Am I talking about somebody? Nope. I am talking about everybody–myself included. You have your PC or notebook/netbook, cell phone with perhaps unlimited Internet access, and many other technology gadgets–and may just shrug this off as the musings of a sadly misbegotten soul.

But have you really thought about what these technology gadgets mean to you and your current status in life? I (and others of my generation) grew up at a time when technology (at least, what was available to us here in the Philippines) was still basic–no personal computers, cell phones or what-have-you that are commonly taken for granted nowadays. We survived–we prospered (well, at least, some), and we got by–today, practically nobody lets a day pass without having checked his FaceBook account, or at least his email, and browsed the latest news headlines on the Web.

What about text and texting? Well, we wouldn’t be called the SMS Capital of the World for nothing, would we? You know, if before technology we were notorious for gossip and gossiping, in this day and age now, technology has absolutely legitimized it on the altar of commercialism–that’s communication, now.

The basic human right of everyone–whether or not your personal handset is GSM (Galing sa Magnanakaw?), or whatever. But did you ever consider that having your cellphone, which you carry everywhere (even in the bathroom), and known (your personal number) to so many people that you no longer enjoy that once-powerful status of anonymity? You are now accessible 24/7.

Therefore, you no longer enjoy true privacy. Before, you could be accessible through a landline; but how many times did you instruct somebody else who answered those looking for you to say that you weren’t around? You can, of course, do the same thing on your cellphone today–simply by not answering it. But it doesn’t diminish the fact that you had been reached. You simply ignored it, because nobody else could answer for you.

So many things about technology are very remarkable–and worth really thinking about. And yet, we (mostly) just focus on the benefits and quick uses for it, and–“Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!”

However, let me share with you this thought by Albert Einstein: “Technology has surpassed our humanity.” With what is happening today, technology, in many ways, has even supplanted it. Consider this: Before, when we were conned by others–which didn’t happen very often, by the way–we felt bad, and vowed not to let those people fool us again. Today, nobody feels bad about being tricked–almost as if it’s to be expected as normal behavior! People say, “Makipag-plastikan ka na lang, kasi mga plastik naman ang mga tao!” When hurt, many people at present don’t get mad–they get even. Mostly, people hurt other people through the use (abuse) of technology.

If at all we get to think about our humanity, do we think in terms of our being able to surpass our technology? Technology (and knowledge which is gained through its use) not only transforms us–it also gives us power. “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Remember?

We think we have absolute power over our lives now through our exercise of the technology at our command. The way most people operate such axiom, however, it’s the reverse. It’s technology that has total control of their lives–willingly or unwittingly given. It’s a sad commentary on the advances we have supposedly accomplished to better our lives.

But is there a concrete example of somebody who is/was not the slave of technology? There is–and long before technology was ever a popular notion. Is he Filipino? Yes. Dr. Jose Rizal. Think about it.

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