“Technology… is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.” ~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971

Technology has completely altered our world in so many ways. At first glance, technology has improved our quality of life, and essentially modernized the world. However, along with the benefits it brings, technology also has carried along many underlying consequences.

When new technologies are introduced, people tend to look at them in a very one-sided manner, seeing only the benefits but not the drawbacks they will also lead to. For example, cars, trains, and planes are frequently regarded as efficient and effective means of transportation. But what is not so often brought to mind with the thought of this type of transportation is the harmful pollution which is released by these engines.

It takes some time for the harmful effects of technology to be recognized, as people are overcome with their initial infatuation with a new invention. They focus on the perceived benefits of technology, and it is often not until serious harm has been caused that they realize the consequences. As with the example of pollution from engines, it was not until attention was brought to climate change that the problem of this type of pollution was recognized.

One aspect of technology that highlights this conflict in particular is the use of communicative technologies, such as cell phones, texting, and social media. When initially presented and introduced, people were led to believe that these technologies would only bring good things and greatly enhance people’s lives. But after being implemented, they clearly led to problems of a size that match their benefits.

Communication and human interaction have been greatly altered by these technologies. They bring the extraordinary benefits of allowing friends and relatives to communicate from opposite sides of the planet. But they also have eliminated a great portion of valuable face-to-face interaction. I have often been in situations surrounded by people, but there is little conversation because everyone is absorbed, staring intently at their iPhones. They are each in their own little world of electronic communication, to which they are drawn so intently for some mysterious reason, a reason so strong that it prevents them from living in the present moment.

Many more real life conversations occur in the absence of technology. And it is sad to see technology taking so many of these valuable opportunities away. People are afraid of missing the latest news from their “friends” on social media, but in doing so they miss so many more things going on in real life. Technology makes it much more difficult for many people to live in the present and focus on what is currently happening in their lives.

Yet we continue to develop more and more technology, never looking back at the consequences technology has led to. And every time the same things occurs: the benefits are large, but are soon followed by a multitude of drawbacks. The gifts of technology are great, but the painful stabs that follow often overcome these benefits.