How much of today’s technological progress is contributing to the creation of art, music, and literature?
Quite a bit.
Technology has allowed just about anyone to create, perform, and spread their art throughout the world with incredible speed and efficiency never before seen in human history. More is created, more is consumed, and more is available to be distributed quickly and accessed in an instant.
However, that is where the advantages of technology stop. Technology enables faster and more efficient creation, but does it actually enhance the quality of art? Music is better reproduced and distributed than ever before, but has the quality of music improved in our times? With virtually everyone literate with better access to written works of all ages, and with better tools to write and edit words, and with the technology to spread those words out to the world through internet, has the quality of writing improved? Do words today possess the power to change as they did in our yesteryears?
The answers, as we know, are all no.
The problem isn’t with technology itself. Afterall, technology is what enabled better tools for painting and sculpting, technological advancement lead to the musical instruments that flourished our civilization with works that couldn’t have been created just by using our voice, and also, utilities to write and record words that reflect human thought, and the written words themselves were technological creations themselves. So, no, technology is not the problem. It would be folly to generalize as such. The problem is that today’s technological advancements are made to create profit by providing comfort and efficiency. While technology back then were basic tools to be mastered and serves the artist, technology today are complex and automatic machines that master human desires and serves those who design and sell them.
The human spirit will always triumph over any advanced technology that supposedly enhances our lives. It’s actually quite humouring to watch consumer electronics companies today going about promoting their products as being revolutionary and life-changing. This new keyboard by Apple is supposed to enhance your writing experience by being more accurate and stable compared to the conventional keyboards. But ask yourself: do overpriced and more comfortable keyboards lead to higher quality work? Homer, Dante, Shakespeare, and Dostoyevsky didn’t need keyboards with computer programs to complete their work. Are all the technological tools creating writers of the same calibre? Quite plainly, no. The same is true for other modern ‘arts’ which are souless and appeals to the bottom base of humanity. It appears that technology doesn’t necessary further human creative process. If anything, it is probably hindering and limiting the human mind to follow its own set of rules.
If technology doesn’t advance human culture, what has it done for us?
Technological advances have undoubtedly led to many improvements in human life through better medicine, better efficiency in all areas, and improved standard of living. But what has it done to change our behaviour and how we live our lives?
- While healthcare has improved and food production increased so that most of us don’t have to worry about starvation, the sheer amount of junk food made to profit corporations along with all the technology made to make our lives ‘comfortable’ by reducing the amount of physical movement we have to take have increased obesity and while reducing our strength and endurance.
- While all sorts of technology currently exists to increase our productivity and make us more intelligent (including games that supposedly enhance our mental capabilities), excessive amount of media and communication tools are overloading our minds with distractions and reducing our existence as mere consumers of basic stimuli.
- While communication has become better than ever before, it has also become easier corporations to track your behaviour to sell you custom-tailored ads while governments spy on your every movement with near impunity.
- As mentioned above, arts have lost their human meaning to become commodities to be bought and sold. Arts that are created today are junk that are made to appeal to the most basic human senses so that it can be enjoyed by as many people as possible. That is the way to profit.
What is modern culture, if not a systemic and collective control of human existence for profit? People today may live under better standards, but don’t necessary live a life of high standards. To live a life of higher purpose, man merely needs his own will and wit.
Personally, the more technology I use, the more sick I feel. Sitting and staring at a screen for a prolonged period of time drains my mind and body of energy. Even in the past when I felt excited by the games I played or a film I watched, I would soon be overcome with a feeling of emptiness as the real world would less exciting. I would also feel disgusted about losing myself in a false world while missing out on living in the real world. When I used to have a smartphone, I would be distracted by things that I don’t even remember now. They were valueless and I spent countless hours on them. Every little light flicker and beep would sway my attention towards the phone. It was a pure distraction machine and I eventually got rid of it.
The more I think about it, the less and less I feel the need for technology. Whatever technology I use are what I deem as being necessary rather than enhancing or life-improving. If I was able to find a community of like-minded people, I wouldn’t mind living with them with only the most basic technology necessary for survival.
I am not advocating a complete rejection of technology and return to primitive lifestyle. I just ask that we examine the effects technology has on our lives to see if they really do improve our existence and find ways to select those that are most useful for us only. Blindly accepting technology based on corporate advertisements that deceptively appeal to your basic desires is not the way to go about embracing them. They must always be questioned and challenged—now more than ever—as they start to have more and more control and influence over our lives.