Opinion: Tech together, not apart



Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer

Brian Reimer is a senior anthropology major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].

If you’ve read my columns throughout the semester, you’ll probably notice an overarching theme. I have predominantly written about how the use of technology has changed us and changed the world. Social media has presented the world with an incredible opportunity. Technology has given us the ability to communicate with people and cultures in ways that were inconceivable just decades ago. We are able to communicate on an intimate level at nearly instantaneous speeds. In the end, technology should bring us together.

The rapid adoption of smart devices and the Internet is sometimes maligned as facilitating digital escapism. However, these same technologies can be used by anyone to cultivate communities and make the world a better place.

For example, my brother-in-law is a gifted engineer and programmer. He has contributed to a project for a friend’s church that allows members to text or tweet prayer requests, as opposed to speaking requests in front of the congregation. The project is called “Messages on a Mission.” The old method for requesting prayers certainly wasn’t for shy people. Since the system has been implemented, prayer requests have increased from around five a week to 50 a week.

In one instance, a person texted in, “I feel invisible, I wish I could disappear.” This text was met with messages of compassion by the rest of the congregation, and eventually the person received counseling as a result of the church community’s support. Before the integration of mobile technology with the church service, this person was isolated and alone. The technologies we use every day brought people together and probably saved a life as a result.

Something we often forget is that digital technologies are tools, fundamentally no different from a hammer. Hammers can be used to create or destroy, just like the Internet can be used to bring people together or push them further apart. It is how we use technology that changes the world, not the technology itself. As we push forward into an exciting and uncertain future, significant considerations will have to be made when adopting new technologies.

As technology comes closer to the human mind and body, humans will have to make a choice. Will we use the massive power of technology for selfish reasons? Or, will we use our technology to further integrate with others and bring about positive, global change? My generation lives on the cusp of two worlds. When human biology and society transitions into the digital realm, a lot of things become uncertain. How will the Internet and mobile generation resolve the problems of today and the inevitable problems of the future?

I implore my peers to consider how we use technology and how we can use it to make the world a better place. The emerging technologies of the world have the ability to positively impact every person and institution, from the pulpit to the laboratory. The future is in our hands.