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Technological advancement defines this generation. What the human race accomplishes in the technological field in this century will be what future generations of humans remember and talk about. The question at hand is whether or not this advancement will be considered of worth. What effect does technology have on humans?
How does it change human development?Two authors, William Deresiewicz and Sherry Turkle attempt to tackle these questions in their respective essays, “The End of Solitude” and “Growing Up Tethered”. Both Deresiewicz andTurkle aim at the negative effects that advancing technology has brought to human development;but they fail to acknowledge the profound benefits of the very thing they criticize.
Their arguments are expertly written; attaching the audience, providing solid evidence, and proving their expertise in the subject yet they ignore the other side, they do not acknowledge the existence of a two-sided conversation. Technology has completely changed how humans do everything; interact, create, grow up, and so on. Technology has negative effects, there are certain aspects that need to be criticized, but just as importantly technology needs to be celebrated, embraced, and pushed further.
Technology will be this generation’s contribution to history, but only if a balance can be found.Technology connects people in a multitude of different ways, yet William Deresiewiczwould argue that such a choice of connection is necessarily a good thing. Deresiewicz was anEnglish professor at Yale University for 10 years, his piece “The End of Solitude” appears in the January 2009 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education.
Deresiewicz’s feeling about technology, such as MySpace, Twitter, and Facebook, is that it fulfills a human need to be noticed by others.
He finds that this ability to fulfill a very natural need is coupled with an adverse effect: the loss of solitude and the space that he believes we all need in order to understand who we are, what we believe, and what we value (Green and Lidinsky 98). To bring his readers, Deresiewicz begins with the question “What does the contemporary self want?” and then almost immediately follows this up with “It wants to be recognized, wants to be connected: I want to be visible”( 98-99). Most of his readers would agree to this because they themselves feel this way.
But just as his readers begin to feel comfortable with this idea of wanting to be recognized, Deresiewicz snatches it away and tells them that they “live exclusively in relation to others” (99) this should trouble and intrigue readers as they continue to venture into this argument. This is where Deresiewicz begins to piece the main portion of his argument together of how humans have lost their ability to be alone and why this is a problem. When referring to the internet, he states “it has quickly become too much of a good thing” (101) and“The goal now, it seems, is to simply become known, to turn oneself into a sort of miniature celebrity” (101).
This is Deresiewicz reiterating his point that technology has made humans forget what it is like to be alone, he even closes out the section with “Not long ago, it was easy to feel lonely. Now, it is impossible to be alone” (102). Deresiewicz believes that if humans continue to stay connected all the time they will never be able to find themselves and hence never be at peace with themselves.
In “Growing Up Tethered” Sherry Turkle agrees that constant connection is a bad thing but for other reasons from the one that William Deresiewicz brings up. Turkle, a professor in the program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT, focuses her essay on how technology, social media, and a constant connection to these things affect the behavior of teenagers. To help argue her point, Turkle uses real life examples that send her message.
Her feelings about technology are littered throughout her essay. She beings by explaining to her readers that”Intimacy without privacy reinvents what intimacy means… Tethered children know they have a parent on tap” (Turkle 430). Very reminiscent of Deresiewicz, Turkle primes her argument with a statement that most, if not all would likely agree with. She furthers this with “Parents want their children to answer their phones, but adolescents need to separate” (Turkle 431).
Has technology changed the way children begin to separate from their parents? Sherry Turkle definitely would say so. Turkle’s other main concern with technology, specifically social media, is how teens worry about presenting themselves. The final part of Turkle’s essay is titled “PresentationAnxiety” in which she discusses how students worry about the ways they present themselves.
A student, Brad, chooses to only represent himself “as cool and in the know. But he hesitates to show people online other parts of himself” and because of this “he feels pressure to perform him all the time” (Turkle 441). Facebook, along with other social media, has become another face for students, the problem is they do not show their true selves with this new face. Turkle’s take technology is changing how children grow up and interact, in a dangerous way.
William Deresiewicz and Sherry Turkle’s respective essays point to very significant negative effects of technology, but fail to acknowledge that there are amazing benefits as well.Three authors; Jane McGonigal, Jeffery Rowe, and Franziska Lys all point out the benefits that technology has brought. Jane McGonigal’s essay “Becoming Part of Something Bigger than ourselves” is centered around Halo 3 and the gaming community.
Her main claim is that online gaming and the technology behind it allows humans to fill a desperate desire “to be of service toa larger cause” (McGonigal 454). Her use of Halo 3 in the essay is mainly to provide evidence, but her argument can be applied to most current technology. It can enable humans to be part of something bigger than themselves and with that comes a true feeling of inner satisfaction.
JefferyRowe’s essay is about technology and how doctors are using it more and more each day. In the essay the specific system mentioned is EHR, or electronic health records. The idea behind this system is a database that enables doctors to have more information at their fingertips. This in turn allows doctors to make faster decisions and possibly save more lives. Finally, Franziska Lys’sessay is about the contribution of technology to teaching.
In her essay, she discusses how changing technology has benefitted those attempting to learn other languages. At the end of her essay she even acknowledges that technology will continue to change and so will its impact.There are vast benefits to advancing technology; McGonigal, Rowe, and Lys only bring in three but even these are enough to show that Turkle and Deresiewicz are missing part of the conversation.
Technology has advanced more in the past 20 years than it has in the 200 prior. Human’spush technology to accomplish things that people could only dream of a few years ago. Unfortunately as technology advances, the human race chooses to mostly turn a blind eye to the adverse effects it can have. Authors like Turkle and Deresiewicz serve as important reminders that everything moving forward is not all positives and no negatives.
On the other hand, authors like McGonigal, Rowe, and Lys remind us what makes technology so special. Understanding both sides to this complex debate is important, finding balance is even more important. Technology will continue to progress, no matter what authors choose to say about it. What will make the difference is our ability to balance the effects. Too much technology will ruin us, yet limiting the advancement of it will prohibit us from advancing as a race.
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