The “Collectively-Taking-Control-of-our-Destinyers” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Placing people into categories has long been a device to position ourselves with and simultaneously against others. From race to gender, we often think of characteristics (socially constructed or otherwise) as confined to neat little self-contained boxes as opposed to existing fluidly on a spectrum. In his 2011 New Yorker article “The Information”, Adam Gopnik continues this tradition by describing three frames that we can use to understand humans relationships to technologies. Gopnik’s categories, which in my view are problematically reductionist, break down people into belonging to the “never-better”, the “better-nevers”, and the “ever-wasers”. In other words

1) those who believe in an upward progress where life is perpetually being improved upon because advances in technology

2) the nostalgic or neo-Luddite type who see changes in technology as de-evolution

3) and the more ambivalent group that that see the modern age as defined by changing technology that will please some and displease others.

Although Gopnik has you believe these groups are distinct and mutually exclusive, it would be hard to argue that any one person or society’s relationship to technology could neatly be reduced and packeded up into such opposing ideologies. Instead, I propose that we all contain these attitudes simultaneously—holding different attitudes about different technologies, or even holding different attitudes about the same technology. As someone who grew up in an age before the internet was widespread, I both hold the belief that the internet has improved my life drastically, while simultaneously longing for the days before it was co-opted as a tool for capitalist gains through advertising and other forms of commodification.

Socially we are not nearly as dogmatic or reducionary as these frames provided. Opinions on technologies are deeply situation to time, place, capital, powder, and how specific technologies are used—including by and for whom.

Furthermore, our attitudes about technologies cannot be understood apart from the specific social context and unequal distribution of capital and power from which they originate. There is a tendency to ascribe an innate teleology to technological development, and to ignore the social processes through which advancements in technology are made. This might explain why Gopnik divides people into the categories of “never-betters” and “better-nevers”, with the only third option being pure ambivalence. I would suggest that in opposition to all of these categories, there are those of us who believe that technology is a tool that can be used towards better or worse ends. In order to do this, however we need to ditch the laisse-faire attitude towards technological development, and realize that we do not only interpret advancements in technology, but we create, shape, and determine the direction they take. The three categories proposed position society as passive interpreters to technological advances where instead we should position ourselves as an active part in their creation. Since these category don’t work, perhaps we should fall into the “collectively-taking-control-of-our-destinyers”. Maybe we should view technology as Marx viewed philosophy in his eleventh Theses on Feurback—“Philosophers have hitherto only interpreted the world in various ways; the point is to change it.”(Marx, 1845).

Which Cheese You Like Will Determine How The Internet Is Inside You!!!

Avvai K

There was a period a few years ago when Buzzfeed quizzes were a popular thing – maybe they still are. Here are a few I pulled from Buzzfeed.com:

It was fun and I think it was so popular because (other than the sheer absurdity of it) perhaps a small part of us felt like we were discovering more about ourselves.

I just did the cheese quiz. I’m swiss cheese – I wear my emotions right on my sleeve and am a terrible liar. I’m not edgy because I prefer to savor the best parts of life, and people admire me for that.

That was slightly entertaining to know, but now what?… I guess I continue on with my life.

By the end of Gopnik’s article, The Information: How the Internet Gets Inside Us, I felt similar to how I felt after all those Buzzfeed quizzes…the feeling of so what? What do I do with this label now?  Gopnik categorizes people of how they react to technology as Never-Betters, Better-Nevers, and Ever-Wasers. To me, this just confusing terms for what can be plainly said as pessimists, optimists, and realists. Using examples and quotes, Gopnik did a great job of describing the general thoughts of people who may identify themselves with the categories. I also appreciated him trying to show some of the faults of thinking about technology in one particular way. I don’t think one person can just be one type of class. Even just narrowing in on the web, it’s very diverse, and it might be impossible to feel the same about all aspects of it. I am definitely a little bit of all three. But again so what? I know how I react to the Internet and how other people may think about it..it’s nothing new. What do I do with this information now?

Gopnik briefly touches on the most interesting part of the whole article:

“The real demon in the machine is the tirelessness of the user.”

I’m interpreting this as how we use the web matters.  This article would have been far more interesting if Gopnik dug deeper into how these classes of people use the web. What we think of the Internet to how we use the internet may or may not be related. As a personal example, I’m a Better-Never when it comes to Facebook and yet I still use it and contribute to it. It’s where all my friends are connecting and keeping in touch. I would have been just as happy sticking to the telephone or snail mail but everyone’s on Facebook and I’d like to be a part of it. No matter what we think of the Internet, it’s still part of our daily life and as Gopnik and this week’s reading by Chimero (The Good Room mentions, we live in it now, and whether we like our home or not we still have to use it and how we use it is important to understand.

I’m currently observing my housemates sitting in the living room as I write this. I ask my first housemate, Jayme, what she thinks of the Internet. (I made them all read this article to help me with this reflection). She says she’s a Never-Better. I ask her what she spends the majority of her internet time doing. She admits she spends most of her time online scrolling through Instagram and Facebook and binge-watching Netflix. I’ll pull a Gopnik and coin a term for this: The Passive Scroller. I turn to my other housemate, Sam. He’s a Better-Never. He uses the Internet when he has to for school (research and accessing scholarly articles). He has no social media but uses the Internet as an alternative telephone to chat with his friends via Skype or e-mail. He says he rather spend time in nature. Sam is a Bare-Minimumer.  The final housemate is Kyle. He says he relates with a Better-Waser. When he’s on the Internet, he’s almost always reading articles on his favorite websites or accessing podcasts. For him, the Internet is a tool to expand his horizons and learn. He avoids passive entertainment on it. Kyle is a Life-Enhancer.

This is interesting to me. If we can be more aware of what we spend the most time doing on the Internet, maybe we can change how we even think or react to the Internet. Maybe Sam, who claims he’s a Better-Never, can learn that there are resources online to further his connection with nature (like the link that Chimero shared in his Good Room article:  “The Internet of Natural Things”. This may lead him to a better opinion of the Internet. Kyle who doesn’t approve of passive Netflix watching may be thrilled to know that there are tons of forums actively watching entertainment – discussing, analyzing, and critiquing it. Maybe Jayme, who’s slowly realizing how she’s spending her time on the Internet might seek out other stuff to do on the web like read about things she’s always been curious about, access water-color tutorials on YouTube and finally achieve her dreams of becoming a water-color painter. Who knows!

Of course, Passive Scroller, Bare Minimumer, and Life Enhancer are not the only ways people spend most of their time on the Internet.  I’m sure if I talked to more people I would get some really diverse ways of using the Internet. But I think it’s a more interesting and useful question. It has more of a potential for reflection and can lead to a change in behavior and thinking.

Categorically Uncategorized

I have always believed that categorizing people into specific groups of thought, never works out. There will always be aspects of the category that just can’t paint a clear picture of every person in the grouping, especially the outliers. For example, when people say all millennials are self-absorbed, entitled (etc.), I think they’re forgetting how many millennials there are, what age range they span, and the fact that people had different environmental factors involved in shaping their views. Another example is the age-old introvert/extrovert debate. A middle ground was established called the ambivert. This was a great step in the right direction if you couldn’t fit yourself into the boxes on either side of the spectrum, but that’s just it, it’s a spectrum and each individual can be placed in a myriad of locations upon that vast spectrum. How a person feels may even change on a day to day basis, swaying between categories. When it comes to the three classes of people proposed by Adam Gopnik, in “The Information”, the Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers, and the Ever-Wasers, I feel the same way. I am situated somewhere on the spectrum between these categories, and that ebbs and flows with my life. These terms may not paint the full picture, but they provide a clear framework for looking inward and thinking about this topic.

The Never-Betters are starry eyed about the opportunities and wonders that lie ahead thanks to technological innovations, the Better-Nevers wish the Internet never existed and look back fondly to simpler times, and lastly the Ever-Wasers are to some degree, a middle ground, who believe that advancements occur at every point in time and it is just a part of our modern experience.

When Frank Chimero in “The Good Room” urges readers to go to libraries or simply read a book, I felt nostalgic for high school where I read textbooks in print, used Microsoft word for everything and printed out copies of my assignments. I only used the web to look things up, check Facebook every few days, and illegally download some music here and there. Now the Internet encompasses my life from day to night and sometimes, I wish I went into some kind of field where I was working outside all day on a farm or running a summer camp, far away from computers. You’re rolling your eyes right now because technology impacts those career paths too, but it’s the romanticizing and longing for something that is less connected that conjures up those ideas. I sometimes think if I wasn’t running a business I would be free from the traps of technology. I’m checking emails, updating my website, taking client calls via GChat or Join.Me, staying current on social media, and keeping up to date with design trends and my competition. It all relies on the web. But what if I did work on a farm? Would I truly be disconnected, or would I find myself gravitating towards the web to share moments with friends and family, watch YouTube videos and get lost in endless scrolling benders? I have a feeling I would. On days when this narrative is front of mind, I would fall somewhere along the spectrum leading towards the Better-Never category.

When my thoughts lead me down the trail I just mentioned, it’s usually because I’ve had an overwhelming day. I usually end up rationalizing my way to another conclusion. Even though we may have lost a certain way of living that didn’t involve a tethering to a digital connection, we have gained so much. The Internet is what has enabled me to do what I love, connect with like-minded people across the world and communicate with ease. I truly do believe that the opportunities are limitless when it comes to technology. Humans are incredible beings with the power to solve complex problems that seem absolutely impossible when the first arise. For example, as our population increases globally, we continue to have more resources to correspond (says Yuval Noah Harari, author of Sapiens). This is because we keep discovering and inventing new means of producing resources and making use of existing resources more efficient (environmental issues aside). When I think back to our first class, when we learned how the web was formed, I am dumbfounded to know that a human made such a remarkable leap of innovation that would have seen ludicrous a few years earlier. At these times, I edge back along the spectrum toward the Never-Betters.

Lastly, I generally come to some place of equilibrium when pondering the role of technology in my life, thus bringing me towards the Ever-Wasers. I like to believe that the internet is what I make of it. I can choose to put my phone down and go for a walk just as much as I can choose to pick up my phone to look something up because it’s convenient. What I found most fascinating about Chimero’s read, was the summary of the app ratings survey by the Center for Humane Technology. Findings show that the % of people who regretted their experience using an app or felt unhappy about it, directly corresponds with how much time they spent in the app. Many apps do great things for us, such as provide entertainment or help us be more productive, but spending too much time in them will make us feel like we’ve wasted time. If this isn’t evidence that we can choose our own behaviour with technology, then I don’t know what is! Spend 10-20 minutes a day in the apps you enjoy or that make you feel productive or relaxed, then get off! Don’t regret that time. The Internet is here to stay, and though it can seem like a bad place, on most days, I believe that we have the power to make it a place that makes us happy. We may just have to learn how to use it better.

Fuzzy Wuzzy Was an Ever-Waser

No, I’m not comparing myself to the titular bear, but doesn’t all of this lingo remind anyone else of that tongue twister?

Anyways, let’s get down to it: Adam Gopnik, in his New Yorker article, “The Information,” lays out three categories of people, divided according to how they feel about the evolution of technology. The Never-Betters feel very optimistic about technology’s continued evolution; The Better-Nevers, as a foil, feel equally pessimistic. The Ever-Wasers have a more ambivalent relationship to technology—or, at least, they accept it for what it is currently and acknowledge that it will continue to evolve and change.

I’d sort myself into this third category. Quite frankly, the Golden Era rhetoric is getting a little tiring. I get that for people whose livelihood/identity was associated with the Internet at a specific point in its evolution, there’s more on the line. They have a horse in the race that I admittedly do not. I think also for my generation, who grew up as the Internet was growing up, maybe it’s easier for us to take these changes in stride.

But I also think that underlying this conversation is a bit of a blindspot regarding technology and evolution. Technology and media exists as a continuum, and it’s never really been stagnant. People have always been pushing forward—be it by combining different parts of the printing process into one mega machine, putting telephone’s in people’s homes, or building smaller (and then bigger) and smarter cell phones. Also, at every point in history, as technology has evolved, there’s been someone saying that it was so much better before  X existed, and that X is corrupting The Youth, ruining humanity’s collective existence, etc. Perhaps the issue is that technology evolves faster and more dramatically than we do.

There’s also a part of me that feels like the Golden Era rhetoric is ageist. Saying “the Internet/technology was better way back when” is at least similar to saying “my Internet/technology is better than your Internet/technology” (which, also, returning to my previous point, is more or less the same as “my generation’s music is better than your generation’s music”.) I feel like it goes hand in hand with “you had to be there”. But we weren’t.

Finally, an issue that was raised in this week’s readings that I feel relates back to this conversation is the issue of the Internet/technology being misused and generally evil. I resent the implication that humans for the first time in history are being mislead or being exposed to biased information. Media and news has always come from somewhere, and as long as it’s been coming from anywhere, the framing and colouring of the news has reflected the views/biases of the person writing the copy, or paying for the broadcast station.

Technology is not any better or worse than it’s ever been. It may be stronger and bigger, but I’m positive that in 20 years, someone will look back and call this a golden era. So, relax. These are the golden days. They always have been. They always will be.

 

Reflection on the Internet from My Cultural Background

In The Information: How the Internet gets inside us, Adam Gopnik proposed three labels: the Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers and the Ever-Wasers. I think I am a little bit of every kind.

First, like any Never-Better, I must admit that I do appreciate the technology advance a lot. Connecting to my own culture is the biggest benefit that the Internet has brought to me. I moved to Canada in 2010, the year when iPhone 4 was first released. A year later, WeChat was first launched in China after the success of Tencent QQ and Sina Weibo. I had always been thankful for these technological advances because they helped me to keep in contact with my friends in China. They kept me accompanied remotely to get through the first toughest year after landing in Canada. Imagine the immigrants 20 or 30 years ago, how hard it would be for them to talk to their family with just letters and expensive long-distance calls! More importantly, eBooks and eReaders also help me to keep reading in Chinese and accumulate my knowledge of the Chinese book market without living in China physically. More broadly speaking, the Internet provides us with the tool to explore any culture with links, texts, visuals and audios without physically being there.

However, with all the appreciation, the Better-Never me still worries about the Internet, especially when the technology meets the government. This fear is also rooted in my own experience. On an ordinary day in March 2017, my friend and I had a conversation via WeChat during which we mentioned the name of the previous Chinese President. We did not criticize him, nor the current Chinese government. Later that day, I posted a screenshot of the conversation to my Weibo, only visible to my friends. The next time when I opened the Weibo app, I noticed that I was banned from Weibo. I would not be able to log into my account permanently! I had been kept a record of my personal thoughts on that account for over 5 years and it was all gone in just a minute. All my posts, my comments to other accounts and even the account itself disappeared instantly from the Internet. A chill ran down my spine. This just terrified me (imagine someone threw your 5-year diary into a fire).         

Take a step back, the Ever-Waser me kicked in. Censorship and authoritarian had a much longer history than technology. It has been going on for a long time. Before the Internet, a dictating government would control the newspaper, book or radios. When the Internet is bringing convenience to the citizens, it also brings convenience to the ruling government. It is not the Internet to be blamed.

Wandering on both the English-speaking (and mainly North American) and the Chinese-speaking social media platforms, I feel like there are more Better-Evers and Ever-Wasers in North American society while there are more Never-Betters in the Chinese society. One day, I was talking to John. He asked me if Chinese people were also worried about the centralization of WeChat, as the Westerners worrying about Amazon or Google monopoly. This question just hit me right at the moment. I then realized that I have not read any significant article criticizing WeChat so far on any Chinese media. Meanwhile, I’m glad to read many articles in this class discussing and reflecting on how the web has changed us, in either a positive or negative way. No matter what attitude we hold towards the Internet, it is important to talk about it rather than take everything for granted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Goldilocks Problem: Thoughts on Reductive Reasoning and New Tech

In his article, “The Information: How the Internet Gets Inside Us”, Adam Gopnik presents each position—Never-Betters (optimists), Better-Nevers (pessimists), and Ever-Wasers (neutral; humanity’s love-hate relationship with technology has never changed)—as having its strengths and weaknesses: technology can and has been used to enslave just as easily as it has been used to empower; cognitive exasperation runs just as rampant as cognitive expansion; the Internet and Web inhibit meaningful social interaction while it simultaneously acting as a hub of interconnectivity; and, finally, just as historical attitudes towards technologies tend to repeat themselves in a never-ending cycle, contemporary technology’s particular brand of omnipresence is something humanity has never encountered before. Frank Chimero, in his essay “The Good Room”, seems to agree with the latter point wholeheartedly, when he wrote: “technology has transformed from a tool that we use to a place where we live”. This is something I agree with as well.

I went into “The Information” thinking my own opinions regarding technology were so complex it would be impossible to fit them into a one tidy category, and upon finishing all the readings from last week, that position has remained the same—what has changed, however, is my ability to formulate and my thoughts and opinions more clearly. As it turns out, I am a mix of all three positions Gopnik lays out, and I feel that North American society as a whole[1] also fits into this new, complex category: where new technology is as exciting as it is scary, and something we both have and have not encountered throughout history.

When pushed, people tend to have slightly more nuanced opinions of things than they let on. I have observed this both in my personal life, and in my interactions with others. For example: at first glance, I tend to present myself as a Never-Better: I use modern technology for everything, I’m rarely seen without my computer and phone, and I truly enjoy all the benefits of modern tech awards me, and so defend them vehemently. That being said… technology also scares me half to death. The idea that companies harvest my information for commercial use is uncomfortable, I have a fear of getting doxed, and the commercialized Web (with all its negative implications) deeply upsets me. At the same time, I’m aware that most of my immediate resistance to new tech is a resistance to change, which is something humans tend not to enjoy—but I also know that humanity has never had such an intimate relationship with technology as we currently do, which makes me wary to write off any and all emotional and critical responses as part of an ancient cycle of human behaviour.

In short, the way I feel about new technology is a complicated mess. These feelings mirror those of my roommate, my brother, my parents, and I’m willing to bet, just about every other North American who has been exposed to technology within the past decade. The more complex technology becomes, and the more parts of our lives it irrevocably changes—the more it has us living inside the library, instead of visiting at our leisure—the more complicated and complex our relationship with it becomes. Furthermore, fitting such a large part of contemporary life into simplistic black and white areas is reductive and potentially dangerous. If the Stream has taught me anything, it’s that we should be wary of easy answers and neat, boxed-up solutions… they tend to radicalize in a way that makes it easy to suspend critical engagement despite our nuanced thoughts and feelings.

[1] It’s worth thinking about how we are define “society as a whole”: globally? The West? Canada? Vancouver? My experience of technology might be very different than someone who lives in China, or Georgia, so I’m using North America, based on my own experiences.

The Best Never-Betters-Better-Nevers-Ever-Waser Yet

 

In Adam Gopnik’s article, “How the Internet Gets Us”, he explains that there are three groups of people when we think about technology. The Never-Betters are the optimists that intrinsically believe in technology as if the Internet is our greatest creation and more innovative technologies are to come. The Better-Nevers are the nostalgic ones that crave “how it used to be”, thinking that the world will come to an end because nothing will be as great and powerful as the book. The Ever-Wasers are the rationalists that learn to deal with technology and its challenges as they come. If you were to ask me, I’d say all three, please!

We view the older generation: our grandparents, elders or seniors in our community, as more likely to identify themselves as Better-Nevers because they’ve lived longer than us, with viewpoints and lifestyles we’ll never understand. Lately, we’ve been thirsting for nostalgia, cue Stranger Things and its successes with chiming into our retro early-mid-1980s connotations. Some of us weren’t even born then to enjoy the symbolic mementos, so how could we possibly be nostalgic for it? Alas, when we compare how life was then to how life is now, how simple things were back then to how things keep getting more and more complicated, I understand how one might feel like a Better-Never.  Has modernity failed us? There are nights when nothing, not even a compelling Netflix show, can beat the feel of a new book in my hands. I devour it and sift into a different world that isn’t now. 

While thinking about all the new technology that enters our world, I can understand why some (including a part of myself) are Never-Betters. Some of our technology is really mesmerizing, and I can imagine people who were first introduced to the Internet feeling the same. I can’t remember the first time I was connected to the Internet, but I can remember the first time I got an iPhone as my first cellphone and what an experience that was. I can understand how sometimes technology really hurts us, how we are consumed into a burnout generation of social media, gaming, and just staring at the screen for so long your eyeballs melt addictions. However, I can’t fathom what’s next for us with where the Internet can go. It’s scary, but sometimes fear drives us towards better things ahead.

I recently went back to my part-time job where I see many Ever-Wasers, elderly people bravely and diligently learning new features to better optimize their phones. I often say to seniors watching the session from afar: “if those brave people can do it, then what’s holding you back from doing the same?” It shouldn’t be an age thing; technology does not discriminate who a user can be. A person can be nostalgic but still hopeful for what’s to come, or better yet, use that nostalgia to inspire new innovations that capture a bit of the essence from the past. As Gopnik suggests, “Once it is not everything, it can be merely something. The real demon in the machine is the tirelessness of the user.” Technology is what we make it out to be; it is controlled by the people and our thinking towards it. Perhaps we have to take things as they come because we don’t know a piece of technology until we’ve thoroughly tried to integrate it into our lives.

It’s all about balance. Maybe every time we get an iOS update, my heartbeat will quicken and I’ll spam text my friends “LOOK WHAT THEY DID NOW. TECHNOLOGY SUCKS!” But after a couple of days, I’ll give in and let my phone refresh into the not-so-scary future that awaits me. I’m still waiting to convert my grandma into an iPhone user, and when I’ve finally done it, I’ll be the first and possibly best Never-Betters-Better-Nevers-Ever-Waser yet.

Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers, and the Ever-Wasers

I’m not sure that I would really categorize myself as being strictly one of the three options that Gopnik has laid out. I would say that I accept change as a natural and necessary part of life and get antsy when I feel stagnant. I carry this same outlook when it comes to technology. I ‘m definitely not an early adopter when it comes to technology (or trends) and would wait to “jump on the bandwagon” until I actually need or could utilize a certain piece of technology or app. Although after listening to Lauren McCrea share participants hesitance on the use of technology, it made me think of how I should probably be a little bit more critical about technology. I think this has a lot to do with the way I look at technology as an industry being innovative and those in the industry having authority to insight this kind of change.

My partner and I were just discussing the other day, how technology is driving all other industries and made think of whether this is a good thing or not. Having worked in fertility, on a grand scale I understood the way technology is advancing the techniques in the field. With the help of highly specialized equipment, the embryologist have been able to develop techniques that have made difficult sometimes almost impossible cases have joyous outcomes. Ironically enough, as a clinic we were slow to fully adapt the use of technology to improve things like workflow. Fully integrating technology in things like our health records does have tremendous benefits such as streamlining records between health care providers, but it does make me question whether there are backup measures for when there are large-scale power outages like the one in Toronto in 2003.

As a society, I think we comprise a mix of all the classes of people. I think there’s certainly value in all the classes of people. I love the rosy almost naive view that Never-Betters have and it’s the best view of the world that we often miss out on. I do understand the resistance to change that Better-Nevers might have. I think this is especially important when it comes to technology that has such an ungoverned industry as we just discussed this week. It’s important to have people who critically think of ways things are changing. Ever-Wasers are needed to drive change and continue the development of society.

The Never-Betters, the Better-Nevers, and the Ever-Wasers

There is a saying in Urdu, my national language:

پانچھوں انگلیاں برابر نہیں ہوتیں۔

“None of the five fingers on your hand are the same size”

It is a very common saying, often muttered when someone’s perspective is poles apart from your own.

In any society, there are all kinds of people with all kinds of thinking. Every person has a completely different worldview, their own set of experiences and style of expression. Similarly, every single person feels very differently about the Web. I do not think I have lived in Vancouver long enough to testify about her society. I will elaborate on what I do know.

Personally, I am 70:30 never-better:better-never. We live in fun times: the Web has given us this delicious liberty to camouflage who we are in our normal analog lives. We can choose who we want to be online. Evidently enough, it has as many cons as it does pros. We have all heard the horror tales of privacy astray. The tiny better-never part of my feelings toward the Web is because of the tactics used to extract personal information. The ability to share goes hand-in-hand with the fear of possible mistreatment. It is deeply unsettling to know that every “private” conversation can be manipulated by anyone with a moderate amount of technological skill. A big fear for me is sensitive information falling into the wrong hands, e.g. banking information or cellphone number.

But the optimist in me loves the fact that I can find out the size of beavers’ teeth in less than 30 seconds with the Web. I use this anonymity to ask Ms. Google questions; questions and concerns which would be trite for a person to person interaction. This hoard of information and resources available to me through the web makes me a never-better.

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.