The United States of America is divided. What concerns me about our current state of affairs is that division often leads to dismantlement or conquest. The country is divided in so many dimensions that even a well skilled group of economists and sociologists would have a difficult time finding a solution to our core challenges and problems. Some might say that our problems are cultural — The culture of white American and black America are in constant struggle with each other which leads to the many problems we experience these days. Others claim that our problems are political — Liberals can’t see the world like conservatives do, despite any efforts to find political compromises. The north and the south are de facto very different in stature and culture. Most of the states in the north adopt to a certain way of living which in a lot of ways contrast life in the good old South. Many believe that we should destroy public education and invest in private educational enterprises; others are from the believe that we should invest in public universities and provide affordable education to a large portion of Americans as the former has been claimed to be a cornerstone of a healthy democracy. Let me ask you this… Why are we so divided as a nation? Some might say, “it is because of the head of the state,” others might say, “multiculturalism…” I say, “It is probably not possible to single out only one single variable that is causing all this mess. It is more likely to be a combination of variables. One of the main variables, to me at least, is how we see and use technology as a means to solve our problems. There are a number of ways I could explain to you this former statement. Let me focus on providing three examples of how technology itself might be the main problem behind the many issues we experience in American Society today.
- Technology empowers but sometimes it backfires. Just because we have access to any technology doesn’t necessarily means that we should use that technology in whatever way we wish. Indeed, using technology in the form of MRI and cat scan formats help us to maybe discover internal medical problems we experience which leads to us living a healthier life. Innovations in the auto industry can in fact make us safer in the roads reducing the number of auto death fatalities per year. Nano technologies assist us with manufacturing products that are lighter and more powerful often results in people having the capacity to capture the very best video footage out there for a cheap price. However, for every single positive attributes these technologies possess, there is a negative aspect to them. We have seen a number of patients being burned and experiencing hearing loss after using MRI technology. According to Motorburn.com, we have seen the semi autonomous Audi A7 breaks down with Florida governor on board, Volvo pedestrian detection tech failing to detect pedestrians, and Mazda experience rear-end collision failure. The latest failure of nanotechnology was seen throughout mainstream media when the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 caught on fire in dozens of American households last year. Just because technologies exists and are available don’t mean they are free of side effects or unintended consequences.
- Technology gives voices to dangerous groups out there. The latest revolution in Egypt was powered by technology. The same can be said about the revolution in Tunisia, Bahraini, Libya, Syria, London Riots, San Francisco Bart Riots, Occupy wall street and many more. The latest technology has divided peoples in many countries in quite dangerous ways since the inception of available mobile technologies. The resurgence of the KKK in the alternative media and other extreme groups are clear examples of how complete access to technology can indeed be detrimental to society and divide us. The problem of technology is that sometimes technology gives voice to groups who perhaps shouldn’t have one. The consequences are predictable — division among groups involved.
- Technology is seen as an “idol worthy of worshipping.” Have you ever try to tell others that technology isn’t always beneficial to them? I actually have done this difficult task in a number of occasions including in academic conferences, open debates, public speeches, and sometimes at church. The vast majority of people receiving these messages aren’t always receptive to the idea of hearing that technology often times have substantial side effects worth discussing. Technology, nowadays, is seen by many as an “idol” that deserves worshipping. Every time someone tells them that technology isn’t anything more than a tool, folks get upset, and many times creates division. In the academic world, where we often discuss phenomenons like the positive and negative effects of technology in society, more understanding is seen. In the “real” world, the reality is much different, unfortunately. Some folks are ready to go to war anytime somebody claims that computer technology is like any other form of media out there with many benefits and side effects. The outcome? Division.
The United States of America is divided. The country is divided in so many dimensions that even a well skilled group of economists and sociologists would have a difficult time finding a solution to our core challenges and problems.In my view, it is impossible to single out the main reason why we have so much division in this country. However, technology is at the core of this discussion — overuse of technology and access. Every time hate groups possessing extreme ideologies get access to democratic media outlets, a disposition for division is likely to occur. These days, a wide variety of groups can aggregate within themselves on-line and boycott their counterparts by association. We have seen this reality in race relations and lately with the political spectrum. Don’t you like blue? Join us… the Green group. It is that simple. Media is polarizing our viewpoints and beliefs more than ever. We need to be careful and discern what is make believe and what is reality. We have no choice but to do that. What will be our biggest challenge in the future? More technology. How ironic. Mignon Clyburn, head of FCC once told me in a private chat… Sooner or later, we will need to regulate the internet. It would be best for everybody. She may be right about it. Thoughts?