This is the fourth chapter of my chapter-by-chapter review of John Dyer’s “From the Garden to the City.” You can read my other posts here.

Do we shape technology?  Or does it shape us?  As I began to think about these questions, I knew what I wanted the answer to be.  I wanted to say that obviously since I was a Christian, only God is the one who is shaping me.  That sounds Biblical, right?  But as I read more on the subject, I began to lean the other direction.

Technology obviously shapes who I am because of the regularity with which I use it.  My great grandparents saw the shift from printed newspapers to television as the top source for news.  I’ve seen the shift again from TV to a large amount of news online.  These slight differences say a lot about us as a people.  The shift to TV moved users from readers to viewers.  Americans went from reading through the newspaper each day to sitting, listening to someone else read them the news.  The technology with which we listen to music has changed from the family radio, to the iPod.  Our culture has likewise shifted from listening to what everyone wanted to hear to everyone being able to listen to whatever they want.  Even vehicles are now coming out with different radios for different seats; the kids in the back can plug in headphones while Mom listens to something different.

In my mind, this technology is shaping us.  For better or worse, it’s making us more independent.  It’s allowing us to have things our way, since we no longer have to compromise on a station.  This technology is allowing parents and kids to enjoy their own music, but at the cost of conversation.  These are just a few of the consequences; I’m sure you can think of countless others.  I’m still not sure whether technology is neutral or not, but I do believe that in some ways technology shapes us.

What is some of your favorite technology, and what do you think it says about our society?

Image Courtesy of / Michal Marcol

4 responses to Definition.

  1. Seth,

    Just wanted to stop by and say thanks for reading my little book. Your posts have been fun to follow and I appreciate the questions you’ve been coming up with for you readers. Great work!

    • sethcaddell 09/28/2011 at 2:33 PM

      Thanks so much for stopping by John. Great book that really encourages the reader to think about things. Lots of fresh ideas throughout it.

  2. I love my cell phone, and I think it can say a couple different things about us. 1) It could say we like being in communication with others/ or that we have a strong opinion of being in connection with other people or/and 2) it says we have prioritized our jobs so that we are always on the clock.

  3. We’re shaped by our surroundings, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Culturally, I live very differently from how Jesus did – I have a car, computer, etc. That’s not a bad thing – I think it’s just our ability to enjoy the gifts that God has given us. Cultural situations may change. It’s important that our morals and ethics do not.