The Friendly Enemy or The Dangerous Friend

There are two cultures, they are in fierce opposition to each other, and it is necessary for a great debate to ensue about the matter… First, technology is a friend. It makes life easier, cleaner, and longer. Can anyone ask more of a friend? Second, because of its lengthy, intimate, and inevitable relationship with culture, technology does not invite a close examination of its own consequences. It is the kind of friend that asks for trust and obedience, which most people are inclined to give because its gifts are truly bountiful. But of course, there is a dark side to this friend. Its gifts are not without a heavy cost. … The uncontrolled growth of technology destroys the vital sources of our humanity. It creates a culture without a moral foundation. It undermines certain mental processes and social relations that make human life worth living. Technology, in sum, is both friend and enemy.

Neil Postman, Technopoly, published in 1992!

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2 Responses to The Friendly Enemy or The Dangerous Friend

  1. bob vanwingerden says:

    technology is such a broad term that the quote loses what might be an insightful observation. Technology put a man on the moon, gave us solar panels that can power our homes, allows relatively few farmers to feed the world etc, and gave us the internet and cell phones ( the two, of many technological advances, that fit into Niel’s observation) How humanity will use the advantages that technology keeps giving us is a challenge for all of us. As robots and machines do more work what will the displaced human worker do? How will we govern when large percentages of people are unemployed but the employed are easily able to provide welfare for them. What will society look like when you only work because you want to not because you have to? Technology presents change but saying it creates a culture without a moral foundation is laying the blame for human failure at an impersonal and broadly vague idea.

  2. Seth Meyers says:

    Don’t you think this was fair praise:
    “It makes life easier, cleaner, and longer. Can anyone ask more of a friend?”

    Technology is a great blessing, but it also places us in many moral temptations that we may not even realize our temptations because we are so enamored with the kindness of our friend.

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