We’ve all seen movies or read books about technology becoming evil or dangerous, right? The first movie that comes to my mind is James Whale’s Frankenstein. Its running theme is the power of science and its unintended consequences. The same goes for plots from every Michael Crichton book (e.g., Jurassic Park, Westworld).
It’s scary to think, but many professionals argue that modern technology, especially cell phones, are yielding serious consequences. Computer scientist, Georgetown professor, and author Cal Newport wrote a New York Times op-ed that has received a lot of attention: “Steve Jobs Never Wanted Us to Use Our iPhones Like This.” Similarly, long-time tech investor and evangelist, Roger McNamee, wrote an article in Time Magazine, “I Mentored Mark Zuckerberg. I Loved Facebook. But I Can’t Keep Silent About What Is Happening.”
Both writers told cautionary tales about an over dependency on new technologies, but these horror stories have become too familiar to us. Perhaps the comparison is too grim to say that Steve Jobs’ and Mark Zuckerberg’s tech innovations are like Dr. Frankenstein’s monster, but there are at least some disturbing similarities. While there are certainly many benefits of technology, here are just a few examples of those unintended consequences:
- Distracted Driving
Cellphone use is one of the leading causes of distracted driving (… and car accidents).
- The Russians Hacked Our Democracy
Evidence shows the Russians used troll farms and social media to influence the 2016 presidential election.
- Governments Use Facebook as a Weapon
Facebook can be used to further political ends and target people it considers a threat. This is especially true for the Philippine government.
- The Proliferation of Fake News
It is difficult to discern fact from fiction.
- The Increased Polarization in Our Society
- Poor Physical Health
Heavy cellphone users tend to be less fit.
- Depression & Loneliness
Technology undoubtedly has consequences, but we can try to limit these consequences by using technology mindfully. With MET (Mindful Engagement with Technology) we use technology with an intended goal. Use your phone for that purpose, and then put the phone away. Through MET, we can be happier and more productive. In essence, our instinctual human need can be met through MET.
For more on the consequences of technology click here.