Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Panic About The Horrors Of Technology

As far as two and a half million years ago, our ancestors chipped the stone of rocks to make crude knives. While our ancestors only wanted to chop an antelope into a juicy steak, they inadvertently kickstarted a feedback loop that changed their bodies forever.

Access to antelope steak may have given the brains of our hominin brothers and sisters the extra calories it needed to grow. Which eventually led to the birth of us.

So if something as simple as a sharp rock can change our DNA, what effects will screens, YouTube and Facebook have on the next generation of children?

Only time can tell. But here’s an educated guess.

Every major technology has transformative effects.

Before the printing press, you couldn’t pop into Barnes & Noble. You had to find the original book and pay a scribe to copy it by hand. Twelve months later, and a year’s salary lighter, you finally got your book.

Before the locomotive, journey times hadn’t changed for thousands of years. You traveled by foot, boat, or horse and carriage. 

Before the telegraph, sending a message from one American coast to the other would take weeks. The inventor of the telegraph, Samuel Morse, was away from home when he got a letter from his wife—she was deathly ill. By the time he got home, she’d already been buried. 

So the debut of these technologies greatly changed our way of living. But not before bewildering everyone. Nobody could predict the impact of these otherworldly gizmos. Although some tried and failed: no animals were scared to death, no brains were melted, and no souls were taken by the devil.

Is today’s era of screens any different? Have we finally gone too far and invented something that will destroy the minds of our children?

Unlikely. 

Just because the latest doohickey looks like something that came out of Star Trek doesn’t mean it’s the instrument of our demise. 

Sure, you may struggle with using your iPhone 12, but today’s 4-year-old can navigate the newest touchscreen as easily as you can count to three.

That said, interacting with a screen isn’t the same as reading the book. Does that mean the screen is worse?

Not necessarily.

Socrates famously said that books weren’t a good idea. Firstly, it would ruin your memory. But more importantly, he thought you’d accept the written word as truth instead of testing the information through a Socratic dialogue.

And Socrates was right: the people of today have bad memories, and we tend to ingest the information in books with little scrutiny. Yet we can all agree that the benefits of books outweigh the harms. And the internet is no different.

Just because a piece of technology feels as if it’s from a dystopian future doesn’t make it so.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach