Discrimination of Technology

By | March 22, 2006

There is something that I’ve noticed over time which has bothered me. It has recently been brought to my attention again. Perhaps I could call it the discrimination of technology.

An unbelievable amount of technological advance has been made in the past century and a half. This has afforded many modern conveniences and been useful and helpful in many ways. A few examples that I will focus on are cars, computers, the internet, and cell phones (let’s not even get into health care). Vehicles have allowed us to quickly and practically travel relatively great distances in a short amount of time. Of course, railroads had achieved the same accomplishment a half century earlier, however now with small vehicles, individual people could own one and travel when and where they liked with more ease. Later on, computers became popular, and eventually many individuals own these too. With the rise of the internet, new ways of communicating became popular. An older technology was given a boost when cell phones were developed. Once again it seems to make it easier to communicate with people.

However, technology is not devoid of consequences and drawbacks. With cars, people began to move further and further apart, realizing that they could simply drive where ever they wanted to go. So if you’re not happy with the area where you live, simply move! And now with the internet there is less need to see people in person, or even call, simply catch up with them online. And why plan ahead, with cell phones, you can make plans at the last minute.

Invention, development and production of new technology has costs, and in our economic system, most of the time this cost is recouped by the developer and producer charging for the product or service. Different people have differing financial means, and therefore have varying degrees of access to technology. Those areas which people decided to move out of, the people who were left were the people who couldn’t afford to go anywhere. The people who may have been able to help left, and now don’t even want to see the problems most of the time. I like the quote from “Renaissance Man”:
“What part of Detroit are you from?”
“The part you drive 85 through.”

Because most of the people who can afford the technology are surrounded by others of similar means, they assume everyone has access to these things. Indeed I think that in a lot of ways we’ll only associate with others so long as it’s convenient. You have to have a car to drive to church, to hang out with your friends. People will only talk to you and let you know what’s going on if you’re online. “You can work with us, just bring your laptop and connect to the wireless network.” And now it’s getting so people assume you must have a cell phone.

I’m fortunate because I have access to much of this technology, though I don’t have it all. Also, some of us might wish to choose not to use it for other, non-financial reasons. This is why this behavior, this “technological discrimination” upsets me. Though I have a lot, there have been times or things that I have not had. From this, I have gained an understanding of what’s it’s like to feel left out because of not having something.

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