Smart Technology: Technology Epistemology or Culture of Technopoly
Remember when we use the phone purely for calling people? Remember logging into the internet only for research? Remember texting people only as a reminder of something important?
Look, Technology no longer serves the function it served back in the 1990s. Since then, technology has evolved, and so its function has also evolved. Technology no longer serves only as a tool like it once was… technology today, arguably serves as a way of life, or perhaps a trendy custom…
However, almost definitely, it has become something far more significant. It has become a modern culture… also known as the culture of Technopoly.
Neil Postman, an American Media theorist explained the concept of “Technopoly” in his book Technopoly: the surrender of Culture to Technology as:
“The primary, if not the only, goal of human labor and thought is efficiency, that technical calculation is in all respects superior to human judgement… and that the affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts”.
and nine years later, the statement was redefined by Qin as:
“culture life bended to the throne of technology, and human have to search for the meaning of life in machines and technologies”.
Does it sounds somewhat familiar?
Indeed, it sounds exactly like us.
Back in the days when I was still a child (and remember, I am only twenty now and I was only seven,eight then, so I am not talking dinosaur time), I would get up at 7:00 in the morning, go yum cha with my grannies for breakfast, then take the bus to school, play bean bags and tic tac toe during recess, storm the handmade sandwich mum made me for lunch and moan about the loan of work by the end of the day. I would then get picked up, have a small treat like a Chinese cupcake or something, play around (and tripped for like a million times… I was a clumsy kid :D) in the playground until sunset, have a shower, dinner, homework and off to bed.
It was the culture of the people my age, and a day like that,if it went smoothly, I would have counted it as a decent day.
But that was before the merges of smart phone, tablet and laptop. It was before the merges of technopoly.
A few years back, I went back to Hong Kong and visited my family, some of which reached 7,8 then, and one day, I was asked to baby sit a handful of them. Logically, since I loved my childhood, I was trying to treat them the way I was being treated when I was at their age; and all hell break lose.
They did not get up 7 but 8 30, and their school start at 9. They did not want yum cha, and instead they want food they have “newly discovered” in the internet that I have never even heard of. They did not bring bean bags or cards to school, they have their phones and Ipads. They want not my home make lunch, they want to “eat out” in places recommended by celebrities they saw on twitter. They did not moan for homework because they were to busying complaining it to their friends and writing angry statuses about it. They did not want playing in the playground because google map didn’t show where it was.
I was petrified.
Surely, society changes constantly and inevitably, and as a young adult I have no problem adapting to reasonable changes. However, I can’t help but wonder, are those societal changes really reasonable?
To them, culture is no longer long standings of traditions like Morning yum cha, or even, a variation of some form of old custom like getting up early for school. The culture that surrounds them is a culture created by technology, spread by technology and enforced by technology.
Typically in Hong Kong, children as young as four, five years old would already own a smart phone, and as little as one or two they would have already possess the ability to operate one of them.
Surely, some might say technology assist development, and I am not arguing that it is not, however, the merges of technopoly is causing the degeneration of our dear traditions.
Mobile phone, Ipads, tablets… they now allow the user to access such an enormous amount of information, the overflowing of information constantly steal their focus away with interesting things, allowing them almost no time to comprehend the tradition of their own origin.
This is, suggested by Neil Postman, “Informing Ourselves to Death“.
We rely so heavily on digital information as our source of information that, we utterly unaware that there are other information around us, and sadly, those information are hence lost. Although those information might not be as entertaining as your friend’s status, or the newest celebrity’s twit, or the tastiest food recommended by one thousand commenter, these information have their own vale. However, we are allowing ourselves in the over-indulging of sort of information brought to us by the culture of technopoly, we are obtaining it at the expenses of our own culture.
And all thanks to the portability of information brought to us my phones, tablet and laptops.
Of cause, they brought us more proficiency in the accessibility of information, perhaps even a new era of civilisation, however, for sure, they brought us a culture of techopoly.
Although some might argue differently, perhaps even a technological Epistemological approach such as Paul Levinson, suggesting that we in fact can control media, including its impact to the existing culture; I continue to hold my pessimism.
Technopolic culture is born to kill; although not to human kind, or to our anthropological or future development, its murderous nature pointed right at our existing culture; The culture of technopoly is a dangerous culture.
It is a culture born to kill other cultures.