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Technology: Are We Empowered or Enslaved?

January 27th, 2013 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, when does the march of technology stop being about making our lives better and start being a self-perpetuating organism to which we are hopelessly addicted?

We live in a technology driven world in which the rhythm of our life is dictated by the machines and gadgets in which we have come to depend. In theory, technology is supposed to serve us. But I’m beginning to wonder if the pendulum hasn’t swung to the other side.

So let’s examine some of the technology assumptions.

Assumption: Computers enable us to do things much more efficiently – thus freeing up our time for other things and making our lives easier.

Reality: Computers enable a single person to do much more work. This means we handle three or four times the amount of work than we did in the pre-computer era. Our lives aren’t easier. They are more hectic and more stressful. It’s a treadmill that forces us to run ever faster to avoid being thrown off.

Assumption: The internet has made the world smaller and more intimate. It empowers us to communicate with people we would otherwise never have known existed.

Reality: The internet has made it possible for us to hole up in our houses or apartments and channel our communications through
the box on our desks. We connect with people in other parts of the world but spend less time face-to-face with our next door neighbours.

Assumption: Hand-held devices (cell phones, blackberries, tablets) harness technology and empower us to make day-to-day, minute-to-minute use of this technology.

Reality: Hand-held devices harness us to technology. The harness is increasingly addictive and, among other disadvantages, obliterates the dividing line between work life and home life

Assumption: Increasing complexity and sophistication in technology is by definition good. Each new generation improves our lives exponentially.

Reality: Increasing complexity and sophistication in technology is good – and increasingly critical – for the bottom line of the companies who manufacture it. Each new generation pulls us exponentially deeper into the technology web with implications we won’t understand until many years down the line.

Assumption: We’ve only scratched the surface of how technology can make our lives better.

Reality: The law of diminishing returns applies to technology when we consider all its implications. We may already have crossed that line without realizing it.

The word “technology” has, I would argue, crossed into the realm of metaphor. We conceive of it as a metaphor for a more fulfilled existence in which we have more control over our lives. I fear that we may have blinked at the moment it crossed over and become a
metaphor for an enslaved existence in which we answer to its whims.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at Visit to download a free preview of the e-book version.

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2 responses so far ↓

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