From Luddites to tech nerds: inevitable ascent

A good friend of mine who takes computer programming once took a few minutes to explain to me the nature of a computer. What he told me was pretty simple, and at the same time infinitely complex. A computer, he told me, is a massive machine made up of almost unending arrays of on and off switches. That’s it. Just innumerable commands either communicating the word yes or the word no, all working together to bring episodes of “Breaking Bad” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm” streaming right in front of my eyes, instantaneously. I was interested, but didn’t really pursue the topic further, because honestly I don’t want to see a sausage getting made, but I love a good frank at a barbecue.

My point here is that with these, as Dr. Evil would say it, gajillions of moving parts in a computer, TV, remote control, or any other piece of technology, there are seemingly endless problems we encounter as owners of these devices.At least once a day, without fail, I want to throw down my phone, destroy my laptop with a rock, embrace Luddism and begin my new life as a stone-aged hermit. However, I can’t. Beyond the obvious impracticality of the thought, I realize something about myself every time I get frustrated with one of my devices, all of whom I swear attempt to undermine me at every possible opportunity.

Even when I am most frustrated with my various devices, I have to force myself to do a reality check, and I always realize the same thing: I am absolutely and completely in love with technology. Head over heels. The late comedian George Carlin had a bit, about how people complain about the food on airplanes. It went something like, “You’re 40,000 feet up in the sky, sitting in a tin can, flying faster than anyone else ever has, and you’re complaining about food?! Just think about it.”

Sure, I can wait for my TV to boot for four seconds as I prepare to watch three shows that all aired at the same time on three of over 1,000 different channels. I love the Internet, HD video and almost every other incredible feat of technology that has invaded my life over the past 17 years. From my first Gameboy Color to my new Apple TV, I have been a technology nerd forever.

By the time that most companies had a computer, it was only a matter of years until computers started pushing their nosey ways into our educational experiences. This year, with the use of the Hub, it seems our computer overlords have begun their slow and painful takeover of the human race. With our increasing dependence on technology and the increasing size of the iPhone, it is only a matter of time until the bleak mechanized world of “The Matrix” comes to fruition, or the human race is enslaved by twenty-foot iPods who whip us with earbuds, as depicted in a favorite episode of “The Simpsons.”

Maybe it’s because I see these futures as a near certainty, but I see any fight against the march of technology as beyond futile. This march is inevitable; since the beginning of time it hasn’t ceased and never will.

We can’t get rid of the beast, so we might as well make the most of it. I love technology. Sure, it’s a love-hate relationship, but what good friendship isn’t? I couldn’t live without all the online educational resources available to me, all the databases and sources and unending and ever-expanding wealth of knowledge that the web affords us.

However, the educational benefit of the web extends far beyond word processors and Wikipedia. Most of the entertainment that helps me relax during the school week comes from a 15-inch screen. YouTube serves as a forum for videos of cats playing the piano to Khan Academy and TED talk videos that can enrich your mind as deeply as reading an entire chapter of a dense textbook. The same applies to Netflix, where you can watch anything from Family Guy to Inside the KKK. I’m not arguing that conventional education fall by the wayside give way to a shining new to age of glorious technological revolution, but perhaps I am just imploring my peers and myself to give technology some leeway. Its benefits are, simply put, countless.

The fact is, there are concrete benefits to the integration of technology in school, and while I am certainly someone who still enjoys the feel of newsprint on my fingers and loathes the stark electronic stare of an e-book, one can’t hide away and hope that technology doesn’t come knocking. We should still have real books, no matter the environmental cost. We should still print sheet music and use film,to keep the beauty of these media alive, but in areas in which we can accommodate technology, we should.

So to all my friends who wish technology was perhaps just moving a bit slower, I will gladly join you in honoring educational traditions past, but we all must move on and adapt to changes that, in the long run, are probably beneficial to all of us.

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