Technology sometimes a hindrance to society

Michael Reagan

I am sitting at my computer. There are three different windows on the screen: one a word processing document, one a social network/music player hybrid and one a live discussion blog for a class. I am sitting at the computer because I am supposed to be monitoring and evaluating the content of discussion in the blog, but my attention has drifted, ever further, from the appointed task into side-pursuits. This is not uncommon for me. My ability to sit and focus on one single thing for an extended amount of time has slowly deteriorated to the point that hyperactivity and multitasking have become habitual. None would deny that it is an invaluable tool to be able to apply oneself to a task wholeheartedly to achieve an end, but how many of us today can do that?

I am the victim here. I am the victim of the cult of convenience that has gripped the world in an ever-quickening race for technological advance. One of the biggest causes for my inability to focus exclusively is accessibility. This incredible computer, which my adroitly accustomed hands dart back and forth over, has the potential to keep me interested almost indefinitely. I can do my homework, chat with my friends, read the news and type a document whilst immersed in the serene tones of Youth Lagoon flitting in and out of my focus from a music player I downloaded for free. All of these pursuits are so easily at my disposal that it’s a wonder that I ever get anything done. If the potential of my computer to distract me is a benchmark, imagine how quickly we’ll be inundated with even more efficient means of attaining entertainment in the near future.  The rise of technology and the immense capabilities of human ingenuity will keep our species forever supplied with the tools of gratification.

The pace of invention and human manipulation of our environment to our interest is something that cannot be reversed. Societal forces have shaped the modern human into an insatiable consumer of the things which we can manipulate. Simply put, if we can exploit something to our advantage, we will. Regardless if it’s beneficial or not originally, we will bend that which we can to our advantage. We are drawn by the ability to control our world for our personal benefit, whether that which we control is beneficial or not in its nature. It’s a fundamental economic principle: people respond to incentives. Currently, I am responding to the incentive of convenience; I am consuming more inputs because I can.   However, there is another incentive here: reclamation of my consciousness. I am not going to succumb to the pressure of consumption. I am going to relish the sanctuary of perfecting one thing. I am going to close all these windows and read the class discussion.  It is a small step I’ve taken, but it is the first step that is often the hardest. We can all make this decision. Will you decide to ignore the capacities of convenience and consumption for their respective sakes? Or, will you decide to engage the mind in a single pursuit of a better appreciation and discovery of self through it?


Michael Reagan is a junior studying political science. He can be emailed at [email protected]