Part 2 of It Is Kind of Odd How Technology Both Enslaves Us and Sets Us Free

Happy Easter All.  I've finally managed to get around to writing the second part to my technology piece...

While technology enhances or enlarges our freedom(s), it can also diminish our autonomy.

1) As several posters have mentioned--see comments under "(Part 1 of) Its Kind of Odd How Technology Both Enslaves..."--we seem to be wedded to some of our gadgets.  How many times have our friends, family, co-workers, or even ourselves said that we can't live without our television, smartphone, computer, tablet, etc.  Heck, even if we haven't said, it is still probably true for many of us.  However, just because we can't "live without" a piece of technology does not necessarily imply that our autonomy has been limited.  A company may "not be able to function" without a certain employee, but we don't necessarily think that the company is a slave to the worker.

The added worry for many of us (who want to be as autonomous as possible) is not just that we can't live without technology; it is that we adjust our lives to fit our technology instead of vice verse.  Instead of using a piece of technology as a tool, which is wholly devoted to serving us, we instead change our habits, views, etc. to fit that technology.  As an example, we change our methods of emailing, writing, etc. to conform to whatever new technologies (ie. a new version of Word) that come along.  If a new IT system demands that we learn a new series of processes, we do it.

In other words, instead of forcing technology to fit within our proscribed routines; we change our routines to fit the technology.

2) We have lost control over our basic information.  I'm sure that my name, address, dob, favorite foods, etc. are floating out on the Web somewhere.  More importantly, I didn't put (some of) them on the Web, nor did I request that it be done.  Nevertheless, it is out there somewhere on the Web for everyone to see.  More importantly, I am not alone; most of us are probably in the same boat.  Whether we care about it or not (I personally am not overly worried about it), we have lost control of our information.  We do not necessarily determine what people see and when they see it.  The growth of the Internet and social media have set us free in many ways; however, it does come with a cost--some loss of privacy and personal control of information.

3) We have always had to worry about "big brother" to some extent.  Even before the invention of cameras, I'm sure that people had to "watch their backs" to make sure that no one was spying on them.  With the invention of cameras, video cameras, recording devices, etc., it became easier for governments/people/companies, etc. to keep an eye on people (either in public or in private).  The advent of things like Google Maps has made that task much easier.  Granted, this might not be a bad thing in some cases; I'm sure that city managers the world over love having the ability to look down on homes from on high to see if they can spot any city-code violations.  Nonetheless, the more advanced this type of technology becomes, the greater its potential for invading our privacy and otherwise denying us the freedom to dictate who sees/hears our private moments.

Clip Art Courtesy of Microsoft Office.


  1. I've proven to myself that I can live without technology for long periods of time. I do not wish to do so, though.

  2. Hi A.M.H.,
    What u say is true about the points that u raise about privacy issues, surveillance issues and autonomy issues in relation to the use of technology and its impact on our lives. And I have to admit that the distractions technology affords us are very alluring, highly addictive and extremely entertaining. I would like to go a step further to add that technology has created a paradigm shift in how we understand reality.Reality has become another complex product, manipulated, exploited and harnessed to a certain degree which allows the privileged consumer in western society to toy with life and preoccupy him/herself to the same degree as the privileged classes in past and present cultures. Technology and consumerism are now two sides of the same coin. Think about much do you really need all those apps or software or devices ? We know we dont need them , yet we feel unfulfilled without them.....this is the big hoax of advertising and I would add our new, sophisticated reality. Control, manipulation, concentration, accessibilty are all very fine but it can get scary when the rich and the powerful can use these tools to whitewash and make entire nations turn upon each other in an instant and fabricate some kind of enemy in our midst and turn our reality into a living nightmare. I know this has always been the case with propaganda but its speed and geographical boundaries are instantaneous and borderless now. That's why internet censorship and control needs to be opposed at every corner.
    Hey, I better stop here....Im on a rave and maybe out of line.....but thanx for the opportunity to make a comment on ur very apt blog post.
    And as for happy easter ?....well, how about happy bunny rabbits and chocolate for all of the kids in the world day ?

  3. I enjoy the perks of technology and getting info immediately as much as anyone, but it saddens me to see parents at their kids' sporting events missing big plays while mom and dad are lost in texting and solitaire land.

  4. As long as the advantages outway the disadvantages we won't change a thing.

  5. Good points. The third is particularly worrying, especially now that employers are starting to ask for access to social networking accounts like Facebook, where there is a ton of private information about not only the user, but the others that person interacts with online.

  6. While I agree that there is a downfall to everything, I can't say that I totally regret the computer age. I know people are living lives through it, but I'm hoping it's just a fad that people will eventually tired from. I mean, eventually playing outside has to come back in style, right?? lol Great post!!

  7. Hello, good friend of Antony!
    Happy Easter to you too!
    His text is beautiful and wise.
    Indeed, we are slaves and hostages of technology in general, but there is an interdependence between it and us, because both are needed: we, to make life easier and it to exist.
    The technology is an example of our evolution, but also that we are fallible.
    Lacking energy (in my town is very common) for example, feel that we are back to the stone age, because practically every technology depends on it (until I write this PC).

    Congratulations on your wisdom!


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