Going beneath the shiny allure of another new iThing, I have mixed feelings about technology. There is the brain-melting awe of knowing that third-world eye examinations can be done remotely, cheaply and quickly using a simple phone camera and saving countless thousands from blindness. The pride at vital social changes that take place as a direct result of Twitter campaigns. The relief at missing children found through Facebook shares (in my case actually finding a perpetrator of child abuse via Facebook which led to him being arrested and charged). The economic and creative boost brought about by Kickstarter. The immense good that comes from JustGiving and present-day saints like Stephen Sutton. Used correctly, tech in 2014 offers company, comfort, truth, independence, companionship and convenience in an increasingly complex, time-pressured and sometimes lonely world.
There is, however, the inevitable flip side – the bullying, misogyny, child abuse, intimidation and hatred that is so effortlessly and easily spread at the click of a button.
As ever, it is the people and not the technology that is responsible for using that technology in the service of good or ill, and whilst that has echoes of the slightly ridiculous ‘guns don’t kill people, people kill people’ tenet of NRA nuts throughout America, it remains a valid point.
Never before has technology become so tied in with our society and the development of that society. Its capacity for good is infinite – economically, spiritually, socially, creatively and medicinally. Things are moving forward exponentially, and although there is an inevitable struggle to keep up to date as progress snowballs, with that same progress comes the opportunity to do almost unimaginable good.
We have a chance, now more than ever before, to benefit from such thrilling technological innovation and channel our use of it in a way that is less about consumerism, greed and ego and more about creating change, competing economically on a global stage and coming together. Let’s not waste it.