Stop Dissing Disruptive Technology!

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I’ve had quite enough of people criticizing disruptive technology or rather technology in general. The main points of their discontent are:

  • We want the “good old days” back.
  • People are losing jobs (example: automation making certain jobs obsolete)
  • People are losing their human-ness behavior (example: people looking at their phones on the dinner outings, instead of talking to each other)

Let me address these concerns from my viewpoint.

We want the “good old days” back.

There was never such a thing as “good old days”, let us not deceive ourselves. Do you mean you were so happy in the (70s,80s,90s,00s)? No, you had your DIFFERENT set of problems then. Remember dialing in to the old router before you can get at least some internet, even though it is super-duper slow? Remember the days before that when you had to go out of your house, take a bus, queue at the post office, just to pay a bill (instead of a 5-minutes affair now with some app).

So, what good old days do you mean?

In my opinion, “good old days” is just a self-induced feeling. When one looks back at his old days, he tend to think ONLY about the good stuff. Don’t you wish you are back in your school days where you can be together with your great set of friends again. Oh, the places you would go, the chats you had with them, the adventures, etc. The memories! But you conveniently left out the homeworks and tests and exams and certain matters of the heart that made life hell for you back then.

And that is what looking back at “good old days” does to you. It is just a selective backwards-look, that’s all. If some supernatural force really grants you a wish to bring you back to then, you won’t last a few days before you want to get back to the future, trust me.

People are losing jobs

You know what, people have always been losing jobs. Let me go back to the times before cars were invented. I’m using my imagination here. Most probably, people traveled by horses (with or without carriages). So, surely there must have been a great industry revolving around horses, the sales of horses, the lower brands, the elite brands, etc. Also, don’t start on the maintenance, maybe fixing horse shoes, fixing the various horses sickness and so on.

When cars were just invented, just like now, there might have been naysayers who goes “bah, such devices won’t last long, soon they will be back on their horses after the novelty dies off”. But for cars, it didn’t. What might have started out as an elite-usage club slowly crept into mainstream. More and more people started adopting driving. And slowly, the horse industry must have slowly died out. And of course, jobs were lost, what else.

Even though the term “technological disruption” was never used until now, it is that same concept in play even then, don’t you think?

When disruption makes lives better for the common people, more common people starts adopting it, and the workers of the older industry have to make drastic changes because their jobs are going to go soon. This is just a repetitive cycle that always happens, not just a millennium thing, and neither can we prevent it from happening in the future eras as well.

So, what do the smarter workers do? They just prepare for the disruption and upgrade themselves to take on the new jobs that the new disruptive technology will provide. So, while there is bad, there is good as well. Such people then become pioneers in the new technology. The group which just criticized and complained gets stayed back and remain at a disadvantage.

So, that’s a message to such people. Pull up your socks, buck up, the world doesn’t owe us a living. We just have to run the race ourselves.

People are losing their human-ness behavior

Somehow we tend to think that it is the modern portable devices, like ipad, tab and phones that have caused people to distance themselves away from each other. But do you really think so, honestly? Put the modern tech and its absence on opposite weighing scales and weigh the respective benefits modern tech had brought, in bringing people together.

Parents who never saw their children for a year or two when they were overseas now can have daily video conversations. Like they were never away! Husbands who left their wives on overseas job opportunities: the same benefits! I personally know people who relied on air mails (remember the blue envelope) for communication, which takes about a week to reach the other party. And I have talked to such people who are much happier now, that they can do their work and yet not miss family so much.

Another common gripe is that when we are all out for dinner or something, we tend to look at our phones rather than talk with each other. But, c’mon, if there is really something to talk, do you think we will still be looking at our phones? Phones are just a modern day excuse. If it was the “good old days” and you have nothing to talk to your partner, most probably you will be flipping the cafe magazine until you have a conversation topic to talk about.

So, let us not blame the device which brought us many benefits. In fact, you must have fixed that dinner appointment over whatsapp anyway, right? Can you imagine the hassle of calling over landline each member of your group and synchronizing a common date and time for your reunion or something? Not anymore, with Groups functionality. So, let’s be thankful to such stuff.

Sometimes, when a parent is reprimanding his/her child, and the child keeps fiddling with his device, what do we do? We blame the device for our kid’s current situation. But one generation ago, we might have done the same thing when our parents were reprimanding us. It’s just that we might have been fiddling with our books instead, or our walkmans. So, it’s not about our device. It’s just a human issue, to be rectified. If you want to blame, blame the human, not the device. But in general, quit blaming and start adopting to our own betterment.

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The main point I’m trying to say is: don’t bite the hands which you take food from. Have gratitude. Technology has brought more people together than apart. Whether people want to be together or not is a feeling not promoted/discouraged by tech. It is by ourselves. Sometimes, we just need a scapegoat to blame. Let us not use our devices as that scapegoat, especially when we ourselves won’t stop using them.

 

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