I used to love that “hurr durr thomas edison was a witch and technology is scary” reaction, because it seemed to capture a fear and willful ignorance from older generations, determined not to see good in new technologies.
I’ve grown to hate it because throwing out that phrase now immediately shuts down conversations on here. Underneath a post that may have fair points about the detriments of the world’s current use of technology will be the “hurr durr” phrase and a bunch of comments angrily arguing that technology is essential for various reasons. Some of those reasons are good! Current technology provides options and access to those with disabilities, it unites friends and family who are geographically far apart, it facilitates storage and retrieval of information with unprecedented and breathtaking ease. All good things!
I work at a college. It’s a fairly regular experience for students to walk into me while they’re looking at cell phones. It’s almost a game - you see them walking toward you, and you wait to see if they ever notice you. I’ve started loudly saying “Excuse me” - sometimes they might look up and swerve, but usually not. Almost everyone who works here has experienced that. Faculty and staff both report students unable to carry on conversations without looking at their phones. Students can’t seem to stop texting in class, in the theatre, during on-campus jobs, even in disciplinary meetings.
Look at airports, public transportation stations, cafeterias, a sidewalk - at some point, you will see wave after wave of people staring at their phones. (Interestingly, airports are also where I see the most number of people reading books.) Go to a concert, and see the sheer number of tiny screens recording the event. I do the same thing - it’s great to have videos and pictures of events! I do wonder if my constant drive to film and take pictures takes away from the experience. Do I feel that something is less real, less mine if I don’t capture it? Why is that? Should I continue enabling that?
It’s not that cell phones or current technology are inherently bad; techne means tool, so these devices can be used for any number of positive or negative ends and intentions. There can be demonstrably negative effects of technology overuse, such as lower retention of information read on screens, as well as revolutionary levels of access and interaction with resources for those with disabilities, for scholars, for those embarrassed to ask other people for help, for those in low income areas, for those who are simply curious.
When people articulate frustration, mockery, or fear of cell phones and the like, I think what those people see is an inability not to use these tools. Sure, some people are ignorant about these issues and loudly mock anyone they see using a cell phone. That is obviously wrong. Adding “lmao hurr durr fire is scary and thomas edison is a witch” can be just as dismissive and ignorant, and avoids the opportunity for honest self-reflection about how you use technology.