In Technology Matters, David E. Nye argues that one major issue in defining technology is that we can only imagine humans pre-literature and not pre-technology. Throughout Nye’s essay, he emphasizes that we cannot hide from technology – it lingers in our lives and we are shaped by it. Nye grapples with the fact that the history of humanity can only be understood as a sequence of technical systems. He claims, “Technologies are not foreign to human nature, but inseparable from it,” which implies that technology plays a dominant role in shaping who we are as individuals. Put simply, he suggests that technology makes us human. However, I defend the opposite: Technology dehumanizes us.
There is no doubt that the advent of technology has made our lives significantly easier, faster, and more influential. Technology has put us on track to make differences for better tomorrows. It provides us with a sense of comfort. However, we have become so overly reliant on it. We cannot fathom what our lives would be like without it. Looking forward, we must consider the consequences. In one study, 60% of people admitted that they rely on technology too much and actually believe that it dehumanizes them. Another study found that 35% of people who own smartphones report checking their devices more than 50 times a day. Technology has pushed us to lose our ability to converse with each other, to enjoy a meal without looking at our phones, to be present without constant interruptions, etc. We choose to neglect things like socializing with our family or friends and rather, to scroll through Instagram and Facebook for hours. As a result, we lose the basic human capacity to show kindness and empathy toward one another. We become hallow and indifferent- we become less human.
Despite this, we know that living without technology is a near impossible feat. We have used its tools for thousands of years and it is through these tools that we imagine ourselves to have some sort of relationship with the world. Living without technology is a scary thought for us. Would it mean that we would exist as upright-walking homo sapiens, whose goal is to merely survive? Would we be hunter-gatherers? If we cannot begin to imagine what our lives would be like without technology, how, then, do we get around its dehumanization?
Technology Matters sheds light on this dilemma. Nye teaches us that it starts with ourselves. We should not reject technology because it is so ingrained in our lives, we should continue to engage with it. But, we should become aware of how we use technology, in order to become less susceptible to its controlling nature. Perhaps we should blame ourselves and not technology. It is up to us to put our phones down, to ask our friends about their days, to smile at someone in passing. If we can do this, we will be able to form a more thoughtful relationship with the world through science, technology, and society. We will be human again.