Am I a Technophobe?

Several of my posts this month have been down on technology, from social media to cell phones. I even suggested that technology is responsible for slowing down the evolution of media, which in turn causes pop culture to stagnate. If one didn’t know me, they might ask if I was some sort of luddite.

The short answer is no, I’m not a technophobe. Thank you for stopping by.

The long answer is nooooooooooooo.

I’m a technology enthusiast. Both my leisure and professional time is spent enjoying technology, specifically computers. I love building hardware and writing software, but I also enjoy learning electronics and aviation and physics.

There’s a reason I’m more drawn towards Sci-Fi than Fantasy.

Many years ago, when Melissa and I were looking for another school for Bryanna and Chris, we stopped by one of the more popular private school options and talked to them about their curriculum. They seemed pretty good, except for one thing: no screens. They took pride in denying kids time in front of computers, and they expected the kids to not have computer access at home. That struck me as incredibly short-sighted, because you really need good computer familiarity in order to accel in STEM programs.

Granted, I may have gone too the other way. I made sure the kids had their own computers, their own access to the internet, and their grades may have suffered a time or two because they spent more time playing games than doing their homework. Then again, they’re very comfortable with systems, with Chris going so far as to build and upgrade computers for both himself and his girlfriend. My kids turned out fine. Also, a technophobe wouldn’t have raised their kids the way I did.

I genuinely think our technology will save us in the long run. We’ll generate cleaner energy. We’ll build robots that pull plastic out of the ocean and pull carbon out of the air. If we’re lucky, we’ll design artificial intelligences that help us step back from war and division, allowing people greater opportunities to express themselves and enjoy and create art.

While teaching high school kids programming in an after school program, the Curiosity rover landed on Mars, and I could not stop thinking about it. I told the kids about it, how automated systems flew into the atmosphere, lowered the rover via a sky crane, then flew off so that it wouldn’t crash on the newly deployed robot. It happened on another planet, far enough away that humans couldn’t help even if they wanted to. And it worked.

I love technology. Science is experimenting and learning. Technology is doing. We need both.

With that in mind, when I look back on my recent posts where I disparage some of our technical achievements, it’s not the technology I have a problem with. It’s the people. Social media as a technology is fantastic, offering people the ability to connect in ways no one else could connect at any other point in history. And we use it to bully each other and elevate people that do not deserve to be elevated.

Cell phones are incredible pieces of technology that can give us access to information in a moment’s notice. We can talk to them, and for the most part, they’re able to interpret what we say and answer our questions or act on our requests. I don’t dislike cell phones because of the technology. I dislike them because other parts of my life have turned cell phones into an obligation. I want to love cell phones. I just can’t.

I am not a technophobe, but I like writing about characters that are afraid of technology. I think I can understand their perspective, even if I don’t share it.