2.12. Why You Should Rethink Your Technophobia

Our real issue isn’t with the technologies themselves. It’s with the governments and corporations designing and using them.

Technology is a pretty popular bogeyman for a lot of problems today.

But we should look more closely at what’s going on there.

Our real issue isn’t with the technologies themselves. It’s with the governments and corporations designing and using them.

They’re designing and using them to spy on us, violate our privacy, bombard us with ads, and make money off of the user-generated content we create for free.

They’re designing and using them to ship jobs overseas, and “disrupt” industries without any concern for the people they put out of work.

They’re designing and using them, in short, in ways that put their own interests ahead of ours.

That doesn’t mean they aren’t delivering any value to people. That’s obviously not true. Technologies can be wonderful. Technologies can connect families and communities. Technologies can even help topple oppressive dictators.

But it’s obvious whose needs and desires come first. Governments and corporations control the process of inventing and making those technologies. And not surprisingly, whenever there’s a conflict between what’s good for them and what’s good for us…they usually get their way.

This is important because when we fixate on the technologies themselves, we’re missing the big picture. We’re missing the real source of our anxieties, discontents, and fears.

The fact is, there are a bunch of things going on, politically and economically, beyond our everyday lives. We may hear about some of them, but we don’t see them. And they have a big impact on our daily lives.

In this day and age, those big things are all related to the growing pains of globalization. But we aren’t dealing directly with those growing pains, because they’re largely happening out of sight. We only see and feel their effects in the political, economic, and cultural turmoil we’re experiencing.

We tend to point the finger at technologies—and other convenient scapegoats, like immigrants—because they’re something we can see in our daily lives. We think to ourselves, “Whoa, I feel more threatened than I did in the past, and when I started feeling threatened was when those new technologies or immigrants or whatever started showing up. So they must be causing it.”

But that’s bad logic. Just because two things showed up at the same time doesn’t mean they’re at all connected.

The media is happy to indulge our technophobia with a bunch of sensationalist stories about how technologies are ruining our lives. But consider how much technologies have disrupted the media industry. With all the newspapers and magazines that have gone out of business, and how profitable it is for them to sensationalize, the media has every incentive in the world to slam these new digital technologies.

Most of the time, when we complain about technologies, they aren’t the real problem. The real problem is our lack of trust in governments and corporations. The real problem is how those institutions design and use technologies to exploit us.

It’s important to make that distinction. Otherwise we can end up barking up the wrong tree, as we try to solve our problems.

 

This is the 40th in a series of over 150 videos about how to create real, lasting social change. Click here for a list of all titles, videos, and transcripts.

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