Technology: An innovation at war with human culture
Technology, which is continuously evolving to suit and complement the dynamic nature of man, its creator, seems to be a source of concern to many.
As I continue my readings on several aspects of technology, I have become exposed to areas that I had previously not taken a particular interest in; some of which I have shared on this blog. However, as I delve deeper into the readings, it appears that technology is at war with several established structures of human society (human culture).
First, it was the dispute it created between users and owners– privacy issues, collaboration versus connectivity, etc. Then, its role in the loss of democracy and now in today’s post, technology’s conflict with cultures in human society or human culture.
Culture: Operationalized definition
The culture being referred to here is not just the traditions and values of a particular group of people, but also the practices or the way things have been done for an extended period. For instance, the way the media has been run for years can be classified as “media culture.” Therefore, a change in these already established norms and practices can be described as a shift in culture.
Hence, the authors in the next few weeks’ readings explain the cultural and historical implications of technology. In other words, how technology has brought about a shift in human culture.
Man or technology: Who is the bigger threat?
Williams (2007) described technology as a threat to human society. He explained the mindset of technological determinists and cultural pessimists; highlighting that technology can only change society if the individuals residing there adapt to the technology. Thus, emphasizing that the major player in every innovation is man, not the thing that has been created. With this thought in mind, does it not imply that man is actually the threat to its race, not technology? Since it has been established that technology impacts only when it is adopted and used by human beings.
One intriguing thought pointed out in Williams (2007) was that “a technical invention can only be called technology when it is used for particular social uses.” Thus, people are significant determinants of the effects of technology in society.
On the other hand, as discussed in one of the previous posts, new technology has increased capitalism in society, and so many “cultures” are changing. Again, the culture here refers to practices that have been developed over time.
For example, the shift in the media industry – if one considers what is being shown on television stations today, one would realize that advertisers have taken over. Thus, there has been a shift in what is deemed important or “news or programme worthy.” Sponsorships now determine whether an event would be aired or not; whether it would take place or not.
The other day, we sought to organize an event. It turned out that for adequate publicity and for that event to occur, we had to have external sponsorship from certain kinds of corporations and class of individuals. In other words, if such support is unavailable, then there would be no event. Therefore, the question is: when did sponsorship become the deciding factor in the implementation of things that are beneficial to society?
The point is that individuals and organizations have become comfortable with the idea or “culture” of sponsorship that many events begin with a discussion of possible sponsors. Nevertheless, this dependence resulted from individuals and corporations who seek to influence the society or specific areas of the community. Thus, they are always willing to spend money in profitable areas of human society.
They capitalize on these platforms, using it as a leverage to build their influence in society, which leads to considerable gaps in society. Several individuals and groups are being excluded from decision-making because they lack the finance to be as influential. Therefore, those with the resources drive both technology and society, creating the loss of minority cultures and opinions.
But, is the control of technology and society really in the hands of a few? Find out in our next post!
By Ngozi Adighibe