Monday, June 15, 2009


Technology is supposed to advance civilization and bring us closer to a utopian, carefree existence.  But advances in science and tech usually bring unforeseen consequences in addition to the improvements.  While I was wasting valuable brain energy pondering this, I came up with a list of "advancements" that have also had negative impacts:

  1. Cell phones - Both a godsend and a curse.  I can keep in touch with everyone all the time, which is great... and absolutely horrific at the same time.  Sometimes I just don't want to keep in touch with everyone.  Then there's having to deal with the people talking in obnoxiously loud voices in every public space, people who can barely drive with no distractions but who insist on talking on the cell, and the worse yet, people texting while driving.  And for goodness sake, how can people talk on the phone so much they give themselves "cell phone elbow"?
  2. Gaming Tech - I'm a fan of gaming technology not because I play a lot of games, but because the gaming industry has driven technology development to the point that I can do serious research on off-the-shelf hardware that used to require really expensive, specialized gear.  On the other hand, people get so into their games, we have issues like Wiitis and World of Warcraft addictions.
  3. Athletic Shoes - I admit, that I do find sneakers pretty comfortable most of the time.  But overall, the ultra cushiony, super supportive shoes of today are making our feet weaker and leaving us more prone to injury.  Athletic shoes that are two stiff around the ankles (supposedly to protect against sprains) just force our bodies to compensate at the knees, hips, and back, increasing injury likelihood somewhere else in the body.  It's ironic that shoes meant to protect us from injury make it easier for us to get injured.
  4. Television - A marvel of instantaneous moving picture entertainment.  Just add surround sound, HD resolution, and a comfortable couch, and you'll have home theater nirvana.  Of course, there's the problem of television keeping people indoors on the couch instead of doing things like interacting with their community outside the home, in this thing called the real world.
  5. Internet - Same problem as with television.  It's just the newest tech trend that's made our lives so much more wonderful while at the same time isolating us and making us dumber.  I can now keep in touch instantly with everyone I know, surf instantly for information and entertainment, etc.  But the flip side is that it's easy to get sucked in and forget to live in the real world interacting with people face to face instead of over a virtual connection.
  6. Modern Agriculture - Food production is the last few decades has been nothing short of astounding.  Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and industrial scale efficiencies means we have a huge quantity of really cheap food.  The downside is that it's mostly subsidized corn that accounts for the vast quantities of calories that we can so easily and cheaply consume.  The intensive farming techniques reliant on petroleum and natural gas chemistry aren't sustainable in the long run (both in terms of resources and environmental cost).  Plus, there's a growing body of evidence that industrial agriculture results in less nutritious food.  There's more to growing food than nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, and we certainly didn't evolve to subsist on corn and all its artificial derivative ingredients.
I'm sure I could come up with many more examples.  But thinking about modern agriculture and food actually made me hungry.  I'm off to scrounge around my pantry for some [no corn-derived ingredient] food.

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