Technology addiction impairs our freedom to enjoy progress

It’s easy to see how one can get the impression that technology has permeated our lives to the point of overdose.

Jeff Koch, Writer

Technology is big.

It seems some poor kid from Apple Inc. managed to lose his secret, unreleased, next-generation iPhone at a bar last week. The phone wound up in the hands of bloggers who dismantled it, played with it, picked apart every cutting-edge component, and posted it all online for literally all the world to see. It has got gadget junkies salivating.

One of my professors brought it to my attention that, in a recent study, students were found to be largely addicted to the Internet; this revelation was given to me while I was typing up a quick text on my phone held inches from my computer, laying open in my lap, displaying my Facebook wall.

It’s easy to see how one can get the impression that technology has permeated our lives to the point of overdose.

I got the chance to use an iPad a friend of mine bought this week. It’s quite a piece of equipment. I was quickly zooming through Google Maps with a flick of my fingers like so many science-fiction space captains from the movies. I was impressed, and having fun. A friend of this same friend was disgusted. “Isn’t this just a big iTouch?” she asked, unimpressed, and surely sending the iPod Touch marketing department that much closer to their assuredly early graves. Still, she got me thinking.

Is there a point to it all? With every new phone, operating system, notebook or iPod, are we really getting what we want? Or are we just waiting on crumbs from the Silicon Valley table?

On the one hand, we’ve got to remember to keep our techno-cravings under control. It’s unhealthy to pine after every new little product that comes to market. I’m guilty of this. I daydream about building my own liquid-cooled, multi-core, SLI-enabled, PC for playing games, (and, of course, writing papers) but who doesn’t?

On the other hand, I can’t imagine folks in Gutenberg’s day decrying the ensuing addiction to movable type when he invented the printing press. He brought about a new way of communicating as well as storing and sharing information that was more efficient. The literate, educated world owes him a debt of gratitude for his ingenuity. In the same way, the iPhone and similar devices have brought virtually any knowledge we could desire into the palms of our hands, and we can scarcely imagine life before them.

Whether you like it or not, technology will move forward. If we’re careful not to succumb to bitterness of heart every time something bigger, smaller, faster or better comes along, we can be free to enjoy its rich rewards.

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