Monday, March 05, 2007

Is Technology That Beneficial?

“The Third Interval” portrays two vantage points to technology as it affects everyday society. On the one level, there is appreciation for all the benefits that society reaps from innovation. People are able to communicate long distances in a shorter amount of time. People can cover great distances in a fraction of the time as well. Yet, on the other level, there is contempt for all the things that technology is taking away. With transcontinental communication, it is difficult for people to have one-on-one physical contact. The intimacy of staring someone in the face when they talk to you is removed in exchange for the distant glare of the computer monitor. Yes, people can travel across countries to meet those who are far away, but “the paradoxes of acceleration are indeed numerous and disconcerting, in particular, the foremost among them: getting closer to the ‘distant’ takes you away proportionally from the ‘near’ (and dear) --- the friend, the relative, the neighbor --- thus making strangers, if not actual enemies, of all who are close at hand…” (20) That reasoning is quite interesting because it is a behavior that most of us are guilty of, but never really realize. When we struggle to make a connection with people from distant areas, we tend to ignore those closest to us. In a sense, the technology is separating us from those we could have a strong connection with. It is quite nice to make friends with people from around the world, but the relationship that is formed cannot possibly be as strong or lasting as relationships formed with people we see everyday. Like it or not, we can make better relationships with those around us because we have access to them. We can better judge their personality because we can observe how they react in particular situations. We know those particular individuals more intimately than anyone we could possibly meet online or through the telephone.

Not only does technology corrupt the quality of relationships, it also alters our understanding of time. Technology is “killing ‘present’ time by isolating it from its here and now, in favour of a commutative elsewhere that no longer has anything to do with our ‘concrete presense’” (10). We as a society are so concerned with saving time in the future, that we tend to miss out on a lot of things happening in the now. For example, buying an expensive house with lots of neat gadgets built-in is a goal many people share. Those people tend to spend their whole lives working towards that goal of getting their dream home, that they miss out on things they could be enjoying in the present moment. Innovations (especially in today’s society) are constantly improving on one another. It is often hard to keep up with what is new. If one were to be driven only to obtain the newest and latest items, that person would be working their whole lives always looking towards that future.

Another interesting claim this article brings up is the fact that speed is only “a relationship between phenomena…” (12) The entire concept is only plausible as long as there are two events that bind together. Since time is often linked with the concept of speed, does that mean time is only the relationship between two occurrences? In a way, it would make sense to think of time in such a way. Time can really only be measured through the recognition of one event in relation to the next. If the world (and everything in it) stood still, it would be highly likely that time would stand still as well.



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