If I were tasked with the chore of educating an alien race about earth's culture, it's pretty obvious how I would start. I would create an online slide show of the 2009 Super Bowl commercials. After all, what better way is there to show a foreign species how humankind has evolved into tech-hungry, commercialized beings? From finding a job using multiple websites to online car and airline flight shopping to graphically enhancing advertisements in general, it's apparent that society is enamored with any imaginable amount of technology. Well, at least, that's what the marketing industry want us to believe.
"Technology, as we have seen, promises to bring the forces of nature and culture under control, to liberate us from misery and toil, and to enrich our lives." Thank you, Albert Borgman, from "Technology and the character of contemporary life." I couldn't have said it any better. The key word in the quoted line, of course, is "promises," and it's fairly safe to say that anyone who thinks this about technology must have never set foot out of the house, computer lab, or Circuit City (whoops!). Few people would argue the importance of some scientific advancement of knowledge, like fire or the wheel, although even hard-core critical theorists seem to think that the simplest tools hinder proper development of mankind. I can see where they are coming from with something like the George Foreman Grill, but the wheel?
In the book "Technopoly," Neil Postman argues that technological change is ecological, and not necessarily good or bad as a whole (p. 18). He also claims that even the printing press and books have altered society from the standpoint of making learning more individualized, compared to oral traditions and the stress of group learning (p. 17). My simple question to Postman is this: Have you ever read a book and purposely never discussed with anyone else? In normal practice, does an author write a novel, poem, etc., for himself only? I wonder how Postman would feel if no one read his books, and no one wanted to discuss his books, based solely on the notion that the medium is the message, and therefore, it is not worth perpetuating. How can he talk about the degradation of society with Johannes Gutenberg and the press while profiting off of writing? Maybe he's just frustrated that someone didn't pick up the tab for his Super Bowl commercial involving dancing lizards and Cheetos.
I will rightly agree with Postman that, in general, an overload of new technology can detrimentally affect a person, a group, and a civilization. However, that does not mean that all scientific advancements spell doom for all kingdoms. Sure, tools sometimes do have an abnormally high power rating, and can consume an individual. But this is not the case for everyone, especially those familiar with various tools and those with the wherewithal on how to use them. Oftentimes, those people who are the biggest opponents to technology are those who do not understand it. While I want to assume that Postman and other anti-Technophilies do comprehend the good side of increased capacities of knowledge, they should at least not downplay the magnificent evolutions that have come about due to human ingenuity.