It is undeniable that technology use has become damaging and addictive for many people in our society today. However, the reason why that is the case is not widely agreed upon. There appears to be a triangular spectrum of stances on who or what to blame, with each extreme being those who blame society’s pressures, those who blame technology users, and those who blame technology itself. It’s all too easy for us to blame technology itself, and difficult to acknowledge that there may be faults in ourselves and our society, but evidence seems to indicate that our own society and choices are actually to blame here.
Adults today are often concerned with how much time teens spend on technology, but don’t often mention why they think this might be the case. Danah Boyd — a researcher from Microsoft — despite speaking from a possibly biased viewpoint, makes an important, true point in the article “Blame Society, Not the Screen Time.” She argues that “We put unprecedented demands on our kids, maxing them out with structured activities, homework and heavy expectations. And then we’re surprised when they’re frazzled and strung out. For many teenagers, technology is a relief valve … It simply provides an outlet.” Without a doubt, most American teenagers would at least partially agree with this statement. Technology is not something that younger people are inherently addicted to only because technology has some inherent addictiveness, but is often overused because of its value as an escape mechanism.
Since technology provides this outlet for those who are overworked, it follows that their use of it is, at least initially was, by choice. The article “Attached to Technology and Paying a Price” is an extensive 2010 story of Kold Campbell, a web designer who was so dependent on technology that he would often end up neglecting to interact with his family. I found a section including a quote from Campbell particularly interesting: “Mr. Campbell loves the rush of modern life and keeping up with the latest information. ‘I want to be the first to hear when the aliens land,’ he said, laughing. But other times, he fantasizes about living in pioneer days when things moved more slowly: ‘I can’t keep everything in my head.’” Even though Campbell’s job revolves around being connected to technology, he still recognizes that there are inherent disadvantages to being too connected. Despite being aware of that, he still decides to use technology unnecessarily, falling asleep with an iPad on his chest and playing video games on his phone when he should be getting work done or interacting with his family. At some point, we have to acknowledge that people are partially to blame for their own technology addiction. Mr. Campbell even admits it; if his excuse were that technology is just a necessary escape from the stress of his job, he wouldn’t have said that he can’t “keep everything in his head,” implying that he knows he doesn’t need to always be connected.
Even with these points in mind, people may still argue that technology and technology alone is the cause of technology addiction. While it may be a factor, society and personal choice are bigger factors. In the debate-centered article “Are Smartphones Making Us Stupid,” author Andrew Keen argues that smartphones inherently lower human intelligence because they make us more self-absorbed and less aware of the world, and that we could use our phones for writing novels, editing movies, and solving math problems but instead use them for social media and games. Although he makes a valid point, he’s also showing that our personal choice is still more at play in how we use technology than the nature of technology itself. I, and many other people, often use my smartphone for uses such as reading news and rarely, if ever, for social media. How we use our technology is entirely our own personal choice, and many people simply voluntarily use it in ways they know could potentially be harmful.
Overall, there is no single cut-and-dried reason for why modern society is full of technology addicts. However, we tend to be hesitant to blame our own personal choices and the nature of our society, and therefore overemphasize the role that the nature of technology plays in how harmful and addictive it has become while under-emphasizing the roles of personal choice and society.
Boyd, Danah. “The New York Times Company.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 11 July 2016, www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2015/07/16/is-internet-addiction-a-health-threat-for-teenagers/blame-society-not-the-screen-time.
Keen, Andrew, and David Weinberger. “Are Smartphones Making Us Stupid?” New York Times Upfront, 7 Sept. 2015, pp. 22–23.
Richtel, Matt. “Attached to Technology and Paying a Price.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 6 June 2010, www.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/technology/07brain.html.Tags: argument Okemos High School
Technology: Who’s to Blame? by Noah is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.