15. Is Technology Evil?

I was working late in the jlab the other night, and someone hollered up to be let in. I let the gentleman in, and a casual conversation about classes and interests turned into a full-fledged philosophical saga.

At least it was for me, maybe he has conversations like it daily.

He proposed that working in media is fundamentally evil, because we are burrowing into people’s minds and trying to change things. I though that was a rather dark way of looking at it and anyways, what if we do good by communicating something with people? He said that we are still manipulating people, which is unnatural.

One of his most compelling points which stuck with me, was how the use of technology; mobile media, computers, the internet, software and hardware, alters the human mind because it changes how we interact.

I cannot refute that. I see in my own life how phone screens attract more attention from their owners then the people physically present with them and people who cannot go a day, or even an hour without posting something new.

I was left feeling a little dejected. Am I doing no less then studying how to commit evil acts upon innocent people? I am going to have very little control of the kinds of clients I will be representing during my first few jobs, I cannot pretend otherwise.

Mulling it over in my head I have come to the conclusion that yes, technology can be used for evil, but no, it is not fundamentally bad. As technology improves the way we use it changes, but it is progress, moving forward and learning that makes the story about good, not evil. For what is technology other then a tool? It is how we wield our tools that is of the utmost importance. As Bill Bernbach said, “We are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can lift it to a higher level.”

More Bernbach quotes

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