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Opinion: In defence of technology

June 09, 2019

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Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

I have seen countless articles describing numerous ways in which mobile phones are as harmful, the internet is a waste of time and social media is nothing but an addiction.

I beg to differ.

We are always taught that we should be thankful for our blessings. Then why is it that so many people out there are deprecating the biggest blessing of all: technology? Technology is an integral part of our lives, whether it’s present in the form of the internet, mobile phones, computers or social media platforms.

You cannot deny it. Technology transports you to wherever you need to go anytime of the day, through the small screen of a smartphone and the larger one of a television, we get to know what is happening around the world. All of this only goes to show how dependent we are on technology.

Yet, I am not here to rant about how we are all slaves to our phones, addicted to social media and glued to the computer screen; or how we are being poisoned by the advancement of technology, and reminisce about the good old days, free from the influence of technology.

Thanks to technology, communication has reached great heights. You always remain in touch with those you know, with time or distance being of no concern. The news of an event that took place on the other side of the globe can reach you in mere minutes. In the past, if I needed to send a message to a friend who was in another country, I would have to write out a letter with the utmost care, rush to the post office, and still have to wait weeks for a reply. But now, I could simply write an email or a message and send it without moving from my seat, and receive a reply too, in the matter of minutes, if not seconds!

I fail to see why the entire perception of technology is discredited simply because a few kids spend too much time playing video games. Technology has made our lives infinitely easier, in so many ways that it’s just impossible to dismiss it completely

The internet has opened up the entire world to us. Anything you wish to know or see is right there at your fingertips. There is no doubt that this generation is more well-informed about the world than ever before. We are aware of the conditions and events taking place all over the world, thanks to the internet. Many kids turn to the internet for help, when they cannot understand, or need extra information about things they are studying at school.

From the life of Henry VIII to the height of the tallest mountain — all of these questions can be answered within a second thought. And it is thanks to that, and only that, of which you speak so disparagingly — computers, phones, internet, and yes, even social media. In my opinion, it is what is making a smarter generation.

No one can deny the overriding practicality of technology. Not a fan of cell phones, for they are nothing but an addictive trap? Well, the next time you are out sightseeing, bring an easel, five paintbrushes, a dozen tubes of paint and a hundred sheets. Oh wait, this is too much of a burden, you aren’t much of a painter and you find this wholly impractical .…

Yes. Your concerns are legitimate. That, my friend, is why technology brought us phones with camera, enabling us to capture hundreds of special memories and carry them in our pocket.

When you think about technology in today’s world, video games are quick to pop up.

Video games have an entire host of negative perceptions surrounding them. But behind those overbearing perceptions, video games, in their essence, are not something terrible. Not all video games are bloody and violent.

Video games require skill, and players learn to be quick, develop good hand-eye coordination, critical thinking and problem solving skills. Some video games give unusual knowledge, like how Vikings lived and different wood and stone types. And playing video games doesn’t necessarily make people violent — in fact, it helps to let off steam after a bad day.

I fail to see why the entire perception of technology is discredited simply because a few kids spend too much time playing video games. Technology has made our lives infinitely easier, in so many ways that it’s just impossible to dismiss it completely.

You could take, for instance, the discovery of fire. It is a very dangerous thing, capable of harming and destroying everything in its path, if left to its own devices. Yet the control of fire was also the turning point in human evolution — a source of warmth, protection, improvement in hunting and a method for cooking food. Surely, people got burnt when they went too close to a flame, but that did not mean that it wasn’t a valuable discovery.

Nearly, 1.3 million die annually in road accidents. Does that make any of us stop using our cars, which we do on a daily basis? Of course not! Yet when somebody hears of the rare occurrence of a cell phone exploding, it starts off a perpetual complaint that “cell phones are going to be the end of us all”. In fact, there is a 0.00000053 chance of this happening to you. You are more likely to get food poisoning, but I don’t see you complaining about food.

Every single thing comes with its disadvantages, but that doesn’t overshadow the advantages. Technology is, in the end, only a tool, and like every tool, from a hammer to a butter knife, it will do that what it is guided to do by the user. It is only as lethal as the next hammer - used to build something awesome, or to destroy. You have to take the good with the bad, and when it comes to technology, there’s a whole lot of good.

Published in Dawn, Young World, June 9th, 2019