American Technopoly


My attitude toward technology is pretty simple. Like almost anything else humans create, technology can be a blessing or a curse. Some Christians harbor an immediate suspicion toward technology, assuming that anything new must be bad, especially new things they don’t understand. But many others are too quick to accept technology as an unmitigated good without considering the ways every new advance can also set us back.

If you tend to be a technophile, a little Neil Postman (1931-2003) might be good for you. I don’t agree with all of his critiques, but he is relentlessly insightful and provocative.

A case in point is Postman’s statement of faith (as it were) regarding our unbridled acceptance of technology and all that it promises to achieve. He lists several characteristics of the noble freedom fighter who resists “the American Technopoly” (which is different than resisting all technology). The list is worth reading and coming back to from time to time.

Those who resist the American Technopoly, Postman argues, are people:

  • who pay no attention to a poll unless they know what questions were asked, and why;
  • who refuse to accept efficiency as the pre-eminent goal of human relations;
  • who have freed themselves from the belief in the magical powers of numbers, do not regard calculation as an adequate substitute for judgment, or precision as a synonym for truth;
  • who refuse to allow psychology or any “social science” to pre-empt the language and thought of common sense;
  • who are, at least, suspicious of the idea of progress, and who do not confuse information with understanding;
  • who do not regard the aged as irrelevant;
  • who take seriously the meaning of family loyalty and honor, and who, when they “reach out and touch someone,” expect that person to be in the same room;
  • who take the great narratives of religion seriously and who do not believe that science is the only system of thought capable of producing truth;
  • who know the difference between the sacred and the profane, and who do not wink at tradition for modernity’s sake;

Makes a lot of sense to me. Might even be worth laminating.


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