My thoughts on the Never-Better, Better-Never, and Ever-Wasers

In Gopnik’s article, he classifies three different ways people respond to technological advancement which are generally defined as follows: the Never-Betters- the optimistic view, the Better-Nevers- the more pessimistic view, and the Ever-Wasers- the middle ground.

As a whole, I think that I fall in with the Never-Betters. I think technological advancement is generally a good thing, if it is tempered with common sense and left without altruistic intentions. I know that this isn’t often the case, but I think humans are capable of being good to each other and thinking of the common good.

As a society, I think we are divided pretty solidly between the three classifications. The older generations and the general news circuit usually fall into the Better-Nevers, as they focus pretty extensively on the failings of new technology and the dangers of the next generation of tech. Although there are negative aspects of tech, I think a lot of the media/political coverage about technology aimed at older people is an attempt at fear mongering. A good example of this is the recent Google hearings, where the head of Google was interviewed by government officials. Although the hearings did have an important purpose (to investigate how google stores private data, etc) it turned into a media frenzy, where older politicians asked incredibly ignorant and personalized questions about Google search.

Young people seem a little more optimistic about the possibilities of the internet. This optimism seems to be changing a little bit, with the current political climate and the state of social media. I think, more than being distrustful, the younger generation is more aware of the “rules” of technology. There are certain social norms on the internet that have grown, despite the “lawless old west” vibe it exudes. Generally, younger people know to double check their sources and to be more skeptical of the internet in and of itself, but they generally utilize new technology more than the older generations.

There have always been dire warnings about the power of new technologies. These warnings have presented themselves through the generations in books like 1984 and The Time Machine and now in TV shows like Westworld and Black Mirror. In many ways, 1984’s predictions have come into being, with devices like Alexa and the Russian bot interference in the 2016 US Election. These warnings make us distrustful of technology, but in a way that doesn’t disparage it completely. The robots in Westworld are often more human than the human characters. The robots in the show are used to hold up a mirror to society in a way that modern technology can be used to hold up a mirror to us.

I think a community’s view of technology often corresponds with what they want to see, rather than what is truly there.

One Reply to “My thoughts on the Never-Better, Better-Never, and Ever-Wasers”

  1. I like thinking about how technology offers us a mirror to look at ourselves. It gets at the circular relationship we have with technology: we shape it, while it shapes us. I wonder, however, where you would continue with that thought. In your last line you say that we see tech for what we want (and you, as an Never-Better, see it positively), but not as it really is. So what can we do to see tech for what it really is? Are the old people right? Or the young people? (and where do I fall in?).

    You have articulated your point of view well, but I think you should be careful to not rely on unsubstantiated statements that espouse common conceptions of the world. These articulations that rely on commonly held, but not necessarily correct, beliefs undermine your otherwise interesting perspective.

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