By Stacey J Thompson
We who live in (relatively) civilized and developed countries would not be able to survive without the basics of running water and electricity. Devices, gadgets, and machines of all sorts surround us, enabling us to accomplish the basic tasks that comprise our daily existence. The mere fact that you are reading this means you are partaking of one of the many electronic tools that we depend so heavily on.
Man's capability to invent and use tools has enabled him to rise above the rest of the biosphere. When we are shown the word "technology," we are often thinking of electricity-powered computing devices and the like, but in truth, even humble stick of wood, in the hands of a creature utilizing it for something that augments its natural capabilities, is technology. Even our less-intelligent animal cousins are capable of utilizing tools, but the heights we have taken the tool-using paradigm exceed all of their breakthroughs put together. We are the ultimate tool users of this planet.
Let's get back to more modern times. There have always been those who decried the use of advanced technologies (advanced compared to their level of tech use, anyway), like the Amish who deem the use of electricity as a distraction from their focus on living a life immersed in their faith, or those who follow the tenets of Christian Science that refuse to partake of modern medicine. They are still using more rudimentary forms of technology that centuries back, were considered technological breakthroughs (and they were probably considered heretical back then).
These detractors of technology often see these new ways of doing things as a departure from tradition, and an unnecessary reliance on something that's not associated with nature or their chosen supreme being/presence/spirit/etc. At the risk of being branded by my readers as a Luddite, I actually agree with the anti-technology camp to a certain extent.
We are often guilty of abusing modern conveniences to the point of doing a half-baked or haphazard job. Most technologies aren't without its toll, either. Every time you drive your car to go somewhere instead of just walking (I've known some people opting to drive to a destination a mere twenty meters away from their home), you are burning non-renewable fossil fuels and are making the air we breathe just a little dirtier.
The ideal view of technology is that it is supposed to enable us to do more, and do it better. We come up with these breakthroughs to solve existing problems, and hopefully not create new ones. Technology should benefit more people and harm less, and that's not what we see in our world today.
This is a twofold message that I want to pass onto the rest of humanity. I'm certain many before me have had these sentiments, but we're a stubborn species, so I'm doing my part by reiterating it once more. We, as the most technologically advanced species on this planet, must strive to create technologies that will augment the positive aspects of our humanity, and when these products of science are within our grasp, we should do our best to use them responsibly. In that, I disagree with those who shun technology. These are tools, and are only as detrimental or as beneficial as those who wield them. Let us use these implements for the good of man and the planet, and not as devices of our self-destruction.
Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California, and works with many companies that promote the responsible, humanistic, and pro-ecological use of technologies for the benefit of people and the planet. Chassis Plans and Tronix Country are some of her client