TECHNOLOGY IS IDEOLOGY
I personally cannot keep up with technology that is available to us today.
Yesterday in the USA Today I read the headliner: “Let the iphone hype begin again.
Then the ad for the iPhone on the website read:
- “iPhone gets faster and sexier -- the new Apple iPhone.”
- “The iPhone is a series of Internet-enabled multimedia mobile phones designed and marketed by Apple Inc. They have multi-touch screens with virtual keyboards and buttons, but a minimal amount of hardware input. The iPhones' functions include those of a camera phone and portable media player (iPod), in addition to text messaging and visual voicemail. They also offer Internet services including e-mail, web browsing, and local Wi-Fi connectivity. The first generation iPhone uses quad-band GSM with EDGE; the second generation iPhone 3G, in addition to the above technologies, uses UMTS and HSDPA.”
What did I just copy and paste from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia? I loved reading the article but I have no idea what it means.
The issue that I will address, how does technology affect our daily living? Or does it?
Some years ago I read Neil Postman’s book “Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. New York: Penguin Books, 1985.’
In the last chapter of Neil Postman’s outstanding book on television, written in 1988, Postman made a profound observation… technology is ideology
- (1). In other words, it is a manner of thinking, a way of thinking. The dictionary defines “ideology” as a systematic body of concepts especially about human life or culture
- (2). It gives a second definition: the content of thinking characteristic of an individual, group, or culture .
- (3). And Postman says that technology is this.
Technology (techne (art or skill), and logos (reason)) is more than a mere device. Technology is a systematic treatment of an art. The dictionary defines it as a capability given by the practical application of knowledge. And Postman says that this capability brings with it a way of thinking.
Technology then is a systematic treatment of an art, and it is a systematic body of concepts about (among other things) life and culture. The capabilities brought to us by new technologies affect the way we think about life, about culture.
Consider Postman’s statement:
- (TV) is an ideology nonetheless, for it imposes a way of life, a set of relations among people and ideas, about which there has been no consensus, no discussion and no opposition. Only compliance. Public consciousness has not yet assimilated the point that technology is ideology. This, in spite of the fact that before our very eyes technology has altered every aspect of life in America during the past eighty years.
Of course, we could here discuss i-pods, cell phones, blackberries, or (as Postman does in his book) something as simple as the clock, or the telegraph, or the photograph. The point is that when a technology alters our way of life, when it in fact imposes a way of life on us, then that technology is also an ideology.
We can say all we want about knobs and buttons and neutrality. The truth is, however, that a technology has yet to be invented that is neutral. Certainly, the Gnostics would have us believe that matter itself is good or evil (which is false). The material that makes up the technology certainly is neutral in a moral sense. But every technology has a bias, a certain way that it is to be used. And that bias is not neutral. If technology is ideology, then certainly television is ideology. And all the video games are not neutral in its content, but bias in its very form.
- To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple.
Since television as an example, and to illustrate all the forms, is ideology, since it imposes a way of life on us, since it alters “every aspect of life,” it is important that we carefully consider how it has affected our lives.
And no, I do not agree that the decision to not have a television means that you need not be concerned with this issue. In fact, I would argue that the decision to have no television, or no functioning television is a life-altering and life-changing decision, and therefore must be given equally careful consideration.
Whenever any technology arises on the scene, “Let the iPhone hype begin again” USA June 10, 2008, we must understand that our reaction to that technology, or our rejection of that technology, still has an influence within the family. Our children are still confronted with that technology. We do not render them safe by burying our collective heads in the sand. What about Grandma’s house? What about motels? Restaurants? Wal-Mart? Our children will see television, today they are glued to video games on the TV set, you can also bring in the computer and all the technology that comes with it. And my experience tells me that they will be glued when they do. So, whether we have a television or not, we still must think through a Scriptural approach to it.
Oh, is there some scripture that can be our guide to the technology that continues to make it easier to do the fun things?
- I Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”
THE MEDIUM WHEREBY (“an intervening agency, means, or instrument by which something is conveyed or accomplished.”) WE RECEIVE INFORMATION IS TECHNOLOGY. (“the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment, drawing upon such subjects as industrial arts, engineering, applied science, and pure science.”.)
THE WAY THE WORLD, THE CULTURE, THE DEVIL, AND I MIGHT SAY, CHRISTIANS, SEEK TO CHANGE OUR THINKING, OUR LIFE, OUR TIME, IS THROUGH TECHNOLOGY.
I am on the INTERNET daily. I use the new gadgets and new technology to better communicate the message that I desire to give to the public. It’s not the medium or technology that in itself is wrong, but we know it’s also the means to control our thinking and life and time.