Another article popped up in my scanning this morning about how technology is making us dumb. It's an interesting article with some scientific information to justify the argument. It is however, talking about how we use social media rather than technology per se.
Note: how we use social media, how we use technology - not what technology is doing to us. There's a difference. The first infers choice, the second infers being no choice just impact.
Technology can't make us do anything unless we choose to interact with it.
We all use it differently, to different degrees. Some of us are addicted to it, others not. Others use it to streamline their work, their lives. Our use of it is changing how we access information for example, but because we get a definition from or fact check via Google rather than a dictionary or encyclopedia doesn't mean we are dumber as a result. We just used a different access method.
There are of course, extreme cases. That's not the technology's fault. It's how we use it. It's our mental conditioning at the time. It's how we set up our use of it. How much privacy we want. How much we choose to share. What to share, what not to share. What we want tracked or not. How many sensors we allow into our life. How much value we get out of using technology. How much time we choose to spend on it.
It's about conscious use of technology. It's what Alex Pang calls contemplative computing: "learning to use information technologies in ways that help you be more focused and mindful, and protect you from being perpetually distracted." Learning to use technology in ways that enrich our lives rather than blindly using the next best gadget or system or app because you can (and I admit to being a gadget nerd).
Reframing this discussion to start from the human position, not technology is useful. Not 'what is technology doing to us' or 'technology is making us dumber' but 'how is our use of technology shaping how we interact with the world'. The discussion needs to be personalised too - 'am I happy with how I use technology to interact with the world?' Not everyone uses technology in the same way.
Rather than frightening us into thinking we have no choice, that we are being changed in ways that we can't control, we need more articles about how to use technology consciously not reactively.