Friday, January 8, 2010

Technology: friend or foe?

As you've probably noticed there are different kinds of blogs and bloggers. Some people write theirs as a kind of daily journal, like so: This morning I got out of bed. I took a shower, brushed my teeth, flossed, combed my hair, got dressed, fed my goldfish, and got ready to begin my day. Then I....

Well, you get the idea.

Not too interesting, is it? No, it's not. I wonder why anyone would think such daily rituals are fascinating enough to share with readers. If you want to keep a diary, buy one of those lovely little cloth books with blank pages, tuck it in your top drawer and write in it at your leisure.

But blogging? Let's have something meaty! Writing, current events, politics, pop culture, fashion, cooking--the list is endless. I think people need something to chew on.

So today's topic to chew on is new technology and how it might be making us all dumber. Why do I say that? Well, because I think people rely on modern gadgets so much now they can scarcely function without them. For example, let's take clocks and watches. When I was learning how to tell time (back in the caveman days), we used a round object with numbers on it. My kids, on the other hand, can't seem to fathom how that works. "What does quarter of three mean?" They need to see 2:45 on a digital clock to understand quarter of three. No thinking is required with a digital wonder. It is what it is.

Then there are calculators. My kids grew up using them in math class. Instead of figuring out math problems on paper, step by step, they simply whipped out the trusty calculator. My husband is always amazed that they can't do simple adding and subtracting mentally.

Now let's take GPS systems. Lots of people are installing them in their vehicles these days. Sure does make getting places easier, right? I won't argue that point. But recently, as I sat in the passenger seat while my daughter drove us to the movie theater, I had to laugh at the "woman" guiding us to our location. Sitting between us was this little device SPEAKING each turn, each direction along the way. While my daughter and I tried to have a conversation, the mechanical passenger kept interrupting with street names, route numbers and highway exits. It sure does take all the thinking out of trying to figure out where you are, doesn't it? It made me think of the old days when cowboys and Indians had only the sun, moon and stars to guide them.

So, that's my theory. Technology seems great, but we'll pay a steep price for it in the end.

We're all gonna get dumber.


  1. Kathy, this may be the reason why my boys don't have calculators. My wife and I insist that they be able to do math. Math is the best subject for both of my boys.

    As for a GPS, my wife would like me to get one as she always afraid I'll get lost.

  2. I actually think the GPS thing is very helpful since I have no sense of direction.

  3. You're just *old* and have reached the point where you sit on the porch complaining about all the whipper-snappers and their new-fangled inventions.

    (Then again, I do the same thing.)

    I think, as with any tech, the true effects of it won't be felt until much further down the line. The impact of the automobile on the shape of our cities and migration to the suburbs, not to mention the environment, took generations to occur.

    These sort of arguments always crop up with new technology (print has been on it's deathbed since the 80's at least as near as I can tell) and sometimes we're too eager to put the blame for things on the tech. Calculators, for example, have not made our kids dumber when it comes to math - restructuring math education has. (Assuming they are actually any less better at it than our generation was.)

  4. Thanks for the old comment, Boston. :)

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it.