TODAY CHANGE sweeps through our globally connected culture, but we continue to face a very old
and very simple question: will
technology turn us into bad people?
Some scholars think it’s inevitable.
Plato thought writing would
short-circuit our memory. Jacques
Ellul thought images humiliated
language. Neil Postman thought
television turned everything into
entertainment. Avoidance or
abstention from technology, then,
would be the only real way to
Other scholars counter that bad
people use technology to do bad
things. Settlers in the New World
used their technological superiority
to subjugate Indigenous peoples.
Nazis mobilized the logics of the
factory system to exterminate
millions of people.
Both of these perspectives on
technology, however, fail to offer
a robust account of how humans
become good or bad. They both
fail to offer a sufficient account of
Humans, James K. A. Smith
argues, are not primarily thinking
creatures. We are bodily creatures,
who hunger and desire. We are
creatures formed through practices,
the mundane and ritualized
activities we engage on a regular
basis. We are also creatures who
traffic in stories or visions of the
good life. Desires, practices and
vision — these are the ways humans
become who they are.
in a Digital Age
FROM THE PRINTING PRESS TO PERSONAL
COMPUTING, WE CONTINUE TO FACE THE
QUESTION: WILL TECHNOLOGY TURN US
INTO BAD PEOPLE?