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

Technology isn’t neutral.

But it isn’t necessarily good or evil either.  Many people look at technology and see others using it for good, or evil and assume that technology is the middleman.  It’s easy to assume that good people use technology for good, while bad people use it for bad.  And that is a true statement.  Yet, what does technology say about us?  What does the existence of the cell phone tell us about people?  What does the existence of text messaging tell us about people?  What does the existence of cars tell us about people?

Obviously we can use technology for both good and bad, but that doesn’t make technology neutral.

Rather, technology can show us what we value as a culture for better or worse.  Vehicles show us that independence, individualism, and travel are all priorities for our culture.  Twitter started by asking us “what are you doing right now?”  forcing us to be self-centered and self-absorbed.  Later they changed to “What’s Happening?” perhaps encouraging us to share with others what we value, rather than just what we had for breakfast.

Technology itself is not neutral.  It can either help or hinder us.  Technology examines our culture for better or worse and serves as its tool.  Last week Apple announced a new iPhone.  This new iPhone will allow you to ask your phone questions, tell it to call people, make appointments, send emails, and more:  All hands-free.

What do you think the new iPhone says about our culture?  What does the demand for hands-free technology tell us about ourselves?

Image Courtesy of / Darren Robertson

11 responses to Approach.

  1. I think it says that convenience is king. We want it quick and easy.

    Perhaps it also points to our preoccupation with status, and having the latest gadgets.

  2. I haven’t seen the new iPhone – I still have the old 3G! Is it hands free with voice activation? Pretty cool – although I probably would use it the same way I use my other one out of habit! I do think that technology is a TOOL and it is neither good or bad. When people get all weird about facebook participation I always tell them the many people I’ve met and who have had an impact on my life or vice versa – the people who were in our youth group 25 years ago, who would have been lost to us in any other era – but because of things like blogs and facebook – we’ve found them again. Yes – I will continue to stay connected and stay relevant, because that’s where the masses are.

  3. I think we’re moving to an instant culture, a connected culture, an everything-at-your-fingertips-right-now culture.

  4. joshua brownlee 10/12/2011 at 10:14 PM

    I think technology does show our want for convenience, but i don’t think you can look at it and call it good, bad or neutral. Guns don’t kill people. people kill people with guns. If you want to argue with me about that that’s another time and thread. Technology doesn’t make good or bad things happen. So with that i think technology shows the human’s ingenuity and our drive for success as an individual with an idea. If you have a determined individual and a good idea why not start a business? make the next best thing and get rich? Isn’t that what technology really is? not necessarily a tool but a product in another sense.

  5. These are some interesting things to think about. I have found that Technology can help in a persons life but relying on it does not help.

  6. I agree with JeffB – Convenience has become king in our culture (and becomes king in my life at times too) – I don’t have the new iPhone, probably won’t, but I still find myself wishing I did at times. Great thoughts, Seth – I’m putting this book on my “read list”.

  7. It tells us that we need inanimate objects to create relationships. Jobs made Mac products to be relational instruments.

    a.k.a. – we’re a shallow, hands-free people.

  8. I have heard that we are the most connected culture of all time, but also the loneliest culture of all time. Technology allows us to connect in incredible ways, but it still cannot replace human interaction, and it never will.

    Connecting through technology is easier, but it is never better. Life to the full often calls us to do things the harder way.

  9. Interesting thoughts, Seth. You’re right. We spend our time, energy, and money on researching and developing this stuff and then the public buys it and makes it popular or not. Good to think about what’s behind all of it while using and redeeming everything we can for His glory. Thanks.

  10. I think that some very good questions are raised here about the impact of Technology. Some great thoughts and I value your review of this book. keep it up

  11. I think the demand for hands-free technology may tell us that we are trying to do too much at once (i.e. multitasking on overdrive).

    Whether a technology is good, bad, or neutral, though, seems to depend on the intent of the creator and the intent of the user.