The Insightful Window

Where life isn't always what it's cracked up to be

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Progress vs. Perception

Whether or not progress is beneficial to society is a topic that would elicit a variety of opinions from its citizens. I would venture to say, for every idea or tool that has changed, or been invented; there will be those who find them a hindrance as well as helpful. Personally, I feel many of our so called “greatest inventions,” or even some of the simplest tools or ideas, have had an adverse effect on society overall. Being a fairly perspicacious individual, I have learned that everything in life is actually about perception, not progress.

In a previous blog, I wrote about the invention of the computer having both pros and cons. I feel this subject needs to be expanded a bit, to include all electrical and electronic products that have made our lives easier, and certainly more productive, such as a calculator or a microwave. Yes, they aid in our ability to be as productive as possible, with few errors, and they save time, but there are drawbacks to using them, such as a generation of children who cannot make change on a cash register or solve mathematical problems without one, or even cook a meal.

Another issue I have with computers is that we have at least two generations now that prefer to read books on an electronic device, (due to the convenience, and the cost, as well as the ability to store many more of them than the physical item). Again, while these benefits are very useful, they also create individuals who dislike a physical book in their hand. I would imagine one reason for this is because a physical book cannot read itself to you, as your computer, iPad, or Kindle would. With a physical book, one would have to make hand-written notes, rather than using the “bookmark” feature on an electronic device. All features that aid us, but at the same time, diminish our ability to perform the smallest tasks with ease.

Once again, we are creating people who quite literally addicted to these creations. They are so dependent on these tools, it's to the point that many people are becoming inefficient with the manual or old school way of completing a task, they are unaware how to complete a task this way, or they are just too lazy to do so. All three of these reasons are all the more reason why people should not be allowed to rely on technology until they understand how to use their own brain power and their own use of critical thinking and research, first.

Cell phones with the ability of texting, have replaced telephones. In fact, a large number of cell phone users don't even use the phone feature, preferring to text while driving, creating more injuries and fatalities while driving. Even cars are being designed so we will no longer have to learn to drive, or learn how to interact with others on our highways. That would certainly take care of the texting and driving issue, but it would create an even larger one. Citizens who cannot do for themselves. 

One of my personal pet peeves regarding progress or rather, the perception of it, is electronic banking, ATM's and the like. I know how convenient it is. I use it. However, I would prefer not to. Many banks have limited inside bank hours for teller service. Some banks even charge for this use, to encourage the electronic banking options. I prefer to use the old fashioned book that was kept by you and the bank, by hand. Those days are long gone, but then so are free checking and savings accounts. It's just another issue I take with "tools of convenience." They always come at a price. It's even to the point that people do not think for themselves either.

Don't get me wrong, I use these same tools of convenience every day, both in my work and leisure activities. Some are by choice, others because there are no other options available. However, the difference between myself and say, someone who has only the knowledge of electronic devices, is that they could not function normally without them. I, on the other hand, can do anything by hand that I can do with an electronic device, and I can do it efficiently. In dire situations, or during an emergency, people will need to fall back on the basics for survival, but many of them will fail. Many do not have the training in what they deem to be, old, or obsolete ways of accomplishing assignments, tasks or goals. 

The problem isn't progress, as I see it. The problem is perception; it's about how individuals think and feel about being self-reliant and capable, as opposed to simply relying on technology to decide their fate. We have learned how to come up with technology, especially electronics, to aid us in all our endeavors, just so we do not to have to learn to do anything for ourselves later. I see this as a problem for society. 

If all of our technology went away, and we had to rely on our knowledge, skills, and capabilities, I fear this country would have a better understanding of the problem. This is my perception of progress in the twenty-first century.

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