Sunday, November 18, 2018

Technology and the Hard Stuff of Living

I read what I think is great op-ed in the New York Times - How Plato Foresaw Facebook’s Folly
by Bret Stephens.

His premise?

Technology promises to make easy things that, by their intrinsic nature, have to be hard.

I found this valuable in reading because the world is now - for better or worst - almost completely tilted to technology.  We can disagree about the value in that but whether we do end up with self-driving cars or robots taking care of us in our old age - we are still human beings. 

Technology may be - right now - rewiring the brains of children.  Maybe creating a need-to-have-it-now feeling.  Maybe creating a fear or anxiety about direct human connections.  I found these two paragraphs to be great and I urge you to consider talking to your children about the issues they raise.

I also urge you to tell your kids that the writer found his thesis in from a story from Plato and Socrates, written 2400 years ago. 
Tweeting and trolling are easy. Mastering the arts of conversation and measured debate is hard.
Texting is easy. Writing a proper letter is hard.
Looking stuff up on Google is easy. Knowing what to search for in the first place is hard. (And hence the need for librarians to help our kids learn how to find and use information.)
Having a thousand friends on Facebook is easy. Maintaining six or seven close adult friendships over the space of many years is hard.
Swiping right on Tinder is easy.  Finding love — and staying in it — is hard.
That’s what Socrates (or Thamus) means when he deprecates the written word:
It gives us an out.
It creates the illusion that we can remain informed, and connected, even as we are spared the burdens of attentiveness, presence of mind and memory. That may seem quaint today.
But how many of our personal, professional or national problems might be solved if we desisted from depending on shortcuts?


Anonymous said...

Pigs must be flying for this blog to be quoting Bret Stephens.

He's one of my favorite conservative op-ed columnists, first in his long tenure at the WSJ, and now at the New York Times. I frequently disagree with him, but always find his writing and its logical structure to be thought provoking.

And this is one of his best pieces.

Thanks for sharing, because I would have missed it otherwise.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Nope, I quote conservative education writer Rick Hess all the time. I think sometimes people see what they want to see.

Carol Simmons said...

Oh yes,

thank you,

I know of someone who has a Doctorate in Educational Technology and has said this forever.

Anonymous said...

Another thing that is becoming clearer to me as I have watched the social media phenomenon unfold is that Facebook's grand plan to increase communication and idea exchange between all people in the world is not the best recipe for a diversity of ideas. In fact, it may be that isolation is the origin of conceptual diversity. This idea has been growing on me for a while and it was underscored by Swedish chef Magnus Nilsson (of all people) at a lecture he gave at the Nordic Heritage center. He lived many years in France and stated that, while French baking is very good, the density of people in France (relative to "the Nordics" as he calls them), lead to a situation where baking in France is without regional diversity. It is all the same, all quite good, but all the same. Meanwhile, the isolation of pockets of people in the Nordic countries have lead to a hugely diverse regional baking culture. Now, if you are a biologist like me, you know that homogenization is a recipe for extinction. I think that social media in general and Facebook in particular are setting us up for an Irish potato famine of ideas. Better to take a stab at coming up with your own ideas even if it leads to a denser chewier crust! Sorry for all the cooking analogies!