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The Tyranny of Tech

by Kerry Dawson

One thing, as we have explored tech as it stands and is evolving, is its dual sidedness. On the one hand, we always have put out great hope for the evolution of tech and making our lives more comfortable. There is no question, this does happen. However, Jacques Ellul, a famous French sociologist identified the downsides of tech. His belief was that as tech evolved it allowed us to do things that were greatly against humanity.

Tech, for Ellul, enabled the two world wars and enslaved everyone during the industrial revolution. His theories, although open to question, were sustained upon further reflection. The dilemma is that tech often takes on different attributes than it was intended for and becomes enabling of both good yet extremely harmful behaviors.

The Second Wave of the Information Revolution: Enslaving or Liberating?

Technological development often occurs in what can be considered waves. Looking at the information revolution, which started slowly after World 2, it was characterized by corporate mainframes intended to store large volumes of information to assist with the streamlining of corporate processes.

Things changed in the latter part of the 70’s when the personal PC era was formed characterized by smaller desktop and then portable devices to assist the worker. These devices quickly spilled into the homes of millions creating the dawn of personal computing. As the computers evolved and were able to do more a revolution of personal computer acquisition ensued for both the corporate/business user and the user at home.

The target of such computerization was still essentially bound to work but as time passed and the computers became more powerful new uses outside of the business world developed. Specifically, the computer was part of your leisure tool activity and with all the hype around the magnificence of this phenomena, a brutal, uglier side began to appear. Characterized by all the trappings of addiction, the term computer addict appeared.

The Smartphone: the Second Nose

If one were to think about what we are seeing metaphorically, then one could easily say the Smartphone is sitting almost as the second nose on a person’s face. To some, coolness today is exactly about this second nose. Yet, what happened to people. Well, as with everything human, you have to have observers to say you are so cool. I too must be considered cool.

First mommy and daddy were being backrupt keeping their children oh so cool but it was rationalized as keeping up. Now the kids are keeping themselves bankrupt changing the devices out yearly or more as you also have to have the perfect nose. Yet what happens when the nose becomes worth more than a computer, a tried and true productivity tool. Enslavement to the new hyperbole that is keeping this alive is what.

Psychologists and Sociologists: Stand at the Ready

When a phenomenon begins to take on dysfunctional aspects, psychologists are more than happy to come in and give it a label a long with their colleagues in arms sociologists. It though needs the psychiatrist to medicalize the phenomenon as a medical illness probably requiring great pills at the ready by their friends the pharmaqeutical industry.

Yet there is a slight hypocrisoy to this trend. David Allen, touted as the master of productivity through his Getting things Done model rationalized away much of what is going on.

Added to this is you have parents that never want to grow up so maybe they can too remain eternally youthful by getting the second nose too. Yet what happens to healthy social interaction while this is all happening. No one answers the phone as it isn’t part of the coolness factor; people spend hours texting people and anyone they can think of as we wrap the ropes tight in enslavement.

Are those that have Helped us with Normative Breaches any Better

The industrial psychologist has on his agenda not nearly what is good for that which ails us but rather contrives often very useless modes that explain nothing. However, not to worry. A small cadre measures the success of all of this on a different but well known dimension. Money. Many people are making tons of money at the enslavement of those who have bought into the new model. Presented as keeping up, how could they not.

It’s odd that when a robber goes into a convenience store and enslaves those for just a short while, they seen as the criminals that they are. Freeing oneself from the criminals is difficult as you have society grappling with this and just concluding those that resist are dumb, lazy, uninspired and on it goes. Throw in a David Allen for good measure to support the insanity and we’ve got something other than a functional society. Maybe David Allen is the victim of his own propaganda. However, it is so perfect to think we can use symbols in an entirely new way.

Throw out Common Sense, the Bible and whatever else that helps us with Existential angst and We Loose

Psychologists should be asking the question (again) what creates healthy ego structure. How do we obtain meaning and identify this beyond our second nose. We did it for centuries and we progressed. Sociologists should assist in what creates these normative boundaries that can be viewed as functional or dysfunctional.

Stepping aside from our current normative boundaries, ask yourself the question if you are really happy functioning in a world that enslaves you, why? We’ve fought against this time and again. Are we functioning within the boundaries supported by current trends that says to those that rightly question how things are working if they aren’t themselves caught up in the enslavement process.

Gut Feel or the Intuitive Self

Sometimes our intuition or gut tells us something isn’t right. Listen to it as it operates from the unconscious which is able to tap into generations and thus time supersedes anything a sociologist can accomplish in reasonable time boundaries.

The one dynamic that essentially tells us something is our intuition. This is a tremendous uphill battle in which those that answer to society (through money) might say repetitiously they (meaning you) don’t understand. Who are you to go up against all those that say not only is this the new norm but that you really put yourself at a disadvantage if you don’t advance.

Salvation through Questioning the Lies

The psychological studies for this kind of work are expansive and come close to not supporting expansive work if no one is getting hurt. However, from young to old, grandparents, parents to children detriment seems to be arriving in a multi-tiered fashion.

As an example, Apple is struggling to come up with the next big stepping stone. In the meantime, by turning on our historical routes, we can continue to live in the groove so to speak without asking the all important thing, what is this life for. Life starts. you’re engaged with a computer, and you are brought into the fold. There are odd anxieties though that express a general malaise, to outright anxiety attacks that make us feel we’re loosing it and maybe even going insane.

Yet, if we think about this logically, except that it might be fun, somehow we know there is something severely wrong. Analysts have proven useless except at the end of second world war they started to ask some very important questions. Odd, how there was little support for what transpired.

If the anxiety increases and we have an inquisitive mind, there is hope. Tapping into the subconscious and unconscious may reveal that we are not liberated but enslaved by these technologies via a circuitous route. The route inevitably leads to anxiety, depression and the odd time suicide when it is not brought into check.

The problem will only increase unless we’re willing to cross into a chasm we don’t understand yet. Doing this though will allow the direction of energy towards the development of systems that truly provide benefits rather than distractions.

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