Ever since our first primitive ancestor picked up a buffalo femur and used it to club his dinner over the head we have been dependent upon our technology. From the mastery of fire to the silicon chip every step in human evolution has been marked by the development of new and better technologies. Necessity, as Aesop said, being the mother of invention, technology must necessarily develop to meet some need of the inventor and so we must always develop a new dependency upon it. The important question seems to me to be is the technology that we are inventing serving any real need.
Earlier this year I spent some time on a farm in a remote part of the country where there is almost no modern technology. No electricity, no mobile phone reception (there is a landline) and so no internet, no computer games, only the radio and a black and white TV that runs on 12 volt car batteries. Life didn’t stop for me. I just changed my focus to different but equally as interesting and vital pastimes. Sure my inbox was bursting when I could get on to the web to have a look, but I had gone cold turkey on technology without a pang. But I do admit that upon my return to civilized parts I was happy to be able to shoot off a text to a friend or spend a couple of hours idly playing some game again. I hadn’t really missed any of it but I was happy to have it back.
I grant that I am not a great collector of gadgets. I don’t feel the need to have the latest iphone or e-gizmo the minute that it hits the market so the ones that I do have tend to be practical no-nonsense gadgets. But I can see how someone with the latest model everything can imagine that their life would end if the technology was gone- obviously they wouldn’t die from it but the attraction to gadgets can be very strong in some people. There will always be a market for new technology whilst it is new but as with all technologies from the past only the most truly useful will survive and that is because they serve us well not because we are dependent upon them.