May 06, 2016

Do you think technology has made us better off?

A lot of people would say, “Yes, of course.” Mo Lotman, founder of The Technoskeptic, would like you to think twice before answering.

It all started with a photo - a particularly gross one.

The photo was of an experiment to grow cartilage using existing biological structures. The result? The shape of a human ear grown on the back of a lab mouse.

“I saw that and my moral disgust meter popped all the way to ten,” Lotman explains. “And I suddenly started to see more and more [potential problems with technology]. The more I saw, the more I concluded, maybe we’re off-track here.”

Lotman started to notice technological transgressions everywhere he went, and his questioning quickly transformed into full-blown skepticism. He eventually started an online magazine as a platform to rethink our views on technology.

“It’s not that I would say ‘Don’t ever use technology,’” he clarifies. ““The internet is incredibly useful… but like all things, it’s best in moderation.”

And it’s the lack of moderation that makes Lotman so worried. “It’s become so normalized…. And I think we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think we’re addicted to technology. We’re definitely addicted.”

He might be onto something. “Smombies,” or smartphone-zombies, are on the rise. People are spending more and more of their life online. And Lotman thinks that our sky-high levels of depression and anxiety are related.

“[The internet] encourages us to live in cultivated bubbles.” Lotman says.

And he thinks those bubbles lead to isolated and obsessive behavior. “A lot of our newer technologies are about making things easier or faster…. But those aren’t the same as making something better.”

The picture Lotman paints is of a dark world. But he thinks there are actions everyone can take to ease tech’s grip on our lives. The first step? A “screen sabbath,” or one day a week completely devoid of screens.

Let’s hope that sabbath doesn’t include podcasts, too. At least there’s always terrestrial radio.

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