Am I Being Degraded by Information Technology?

I have worked in information technology for most of my life. I understand it and I thrive in it. However, as I get older, I find myself aligning more with my father’s viewpoint on technology.

My father was an excellent scientist, specifically an agronomist, who did experiments the old-fashioned way, planting crops by hand in a field, harvesting them in precise batches, and taking concise, detailed handwritten notes.

Towards the end of his career, word processors were introduced in the office. The directive came down from headquarters that all reports should be submitted on a floppy disk. Unwilling to adapt to this new technology, my father painstakingly typed out his final report on an old-fashioned typewriter, then stapled it to a floppy disk and handed it in on his retirement day.

My father was a strong-spirited, deep-hearted man. He refused to be subordinated by technology.

I am a husband, a father and a man of faith. These roles are far more essential to my identity than my career in IT.  Recently, I have found myself wondering whether being surrounded by information technology has, or has not, improved my life. I wonder whether I have allowed it to do what my father would not — namely, to complicate my life and distract me from what is most important.

While the internet has enabled us to communicate instantly with business colleagues and family members around the world, we are now on-call 24 hours a day. Working from home means there is no separation between our work, family, and relaxation time.

We have any piece of information or news at our fingertips, but we have also become submerged in a vast sea of unfiltered noise that makes it difficult to distinguish what is important from what is mundane, inaccurate, or deceptive.

We are fundamentally spiritual beings who thrive on love, beauty, truth, and creativity. Our inherent original nature is to be the ‘lord of creation’; to be responsible for, and in control of, our environment — rather than being dominated by it.

As technology, ever more complicated, continues to advance ever faster into artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR), the questions that I ask are:

  • Does our technology serve our spiritual health, freedom and wellbeing?
  • Does it advance our ability to be “lords of creation?”
  • Or are we, unlike my father, willingly becoming servants of the machine that we have created?

Questions to Consider

Do you agree with the basic thesis of this essay? Do you have a different take on the relationship between information technology and the user’s quality of life?

Are we interfacing with information on machines rather than with the hearts of other human beings and is this a problem?

What advice can you share based on your personal experience:  How should information technology be positioned in our daily life to support the fullness of our spiritual growth?

Please share your thoughts below.