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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Is Life Possible Without Technology?

As I sat in my home contemplating the vast definition of technology, I realized that everything in sight was in some fashion touched by technology. The cell phone and television are obvious examples, but even the paint on the walls was developed using technology. In the beginning, men sat on rocks, killed animals, and picked berries with their hands. It did not take us long to develop tools and weapons that made life easier, safer, and more comfortable.   Technology may only be a tool, but I question whether we are capable of going back to a time without it. Can we really take away all the tools and technology developed since the dawn of humankind, and live without them?
            How dependant is man on technology?  According to Science For You, in 2009 “over 79% of Citizens in the United States own a personal computer at home and over 67% own mobile phones”(Science, 2009, p. 1). People are dependent on technology for countless things from shopping and banking, to everyday communication. The use of technology can make our lives easier. “As a tool, a computer is a useful aid. It has helped architects and engineers design and provide more reliable, interesting structures and buildings. It allows us to split atoms, and categorize human genome.”(Grohol, 2009, p. 1). The concern is that we may be too dependent on technology. According to Grohol “as a society, [we] are embracing technology without fully understanding the long-term ramifications of this decision. We’re constantly seeking out short-term gains and improvements without really taking into consideration the whole picture for future generations.”
            Is it possible to live without current technology? Unless you live in a completely undeveloped community, even if you gave up your cell phone, computer, and TV - technology still would affect your life.
“There is a very high chance that the produce you pick out at the grocery store was planted by a machine and harvested by a machine… The train your board every morning as part of your work commute is a result of technology…Even the couch that you are sitting on could very well be one of the billions of products that have resulted from technology. After all, it had to be designed, yes? Perhaps it was not handmade like the furniture from olden days was put together, but it was put together partly by a machine” (Corkern, 2009, p.1.).
Living in the Inland Northwest life without technology would be nearly impossible.  Without the technology to cut down a tree, shelter would be limited to caves.  Without the technology to start a fire, life at this latitude would not be possible.  Without food preservation technology food would freeze in the winter and rot in the summer making.
          With this information, I find it would be nearly impossible to live without technology.  This makes technology more of a necessity then a tool. It seems that if the world stopped and we no longer had machines, electricity, and pre-packaged food at least a few people would survive and could temporarily live without technology. I doubt it would be long before those survivors began developing technology in order to make their own lives better. It is possible when the stone arrow point and wheel were introduced, that a group of early humans thought that this rapid advance in technology was unconsidered and wrong. They might have had a point, it has changed the landscape, caused pollution that their descendants have to deal with, and the world will never be the same. The unconsidered long-term ramifications were profound. However, the unconsidered benefits were equally profound – starvation is now a scandal, infant mortality is limited, lifespans are hugely increased. As I sit in my home, at an age when most of my cavewomen ancestors would have been dead for several years, I thank them for the accepting the technological advances that allow me to contemplate in comfort the joy I feel in knowing that my world doesn’t include the everyday horrors of life without technology.

Corkern, A. (2009). Artipot. Living Everyday Life Without Technology.  Retrieved from

Grohol, J. (2009). PsychCentral. Why Reliance on Technology is a Bad Thing. Retrived from

Science For You, (2009). Living Everyday Life Without Technology. Retrieved from http://10a2.wordpres d-or-bad/
Thurlow, C., Lengel, L., and Tomic, A. (2009).  Computer Mediated Communication. London: Sage Publications Ltd.