Change often feels threatening and new technologies are always feared by some people, but the successful ones eventually get integrated into society and become normal. I love the way this cartoon above makes the argument succinctly and with great examples, but there are many others. At different times people have been similarly afraid that chess, cinema, mobile phones and Facebook will destroy society.
In fact, it seems to me that every generation has something that it fears. The one that worries me is virtual reality. Mostly I’m excited by what Oculus and others are doing. We have one of their developer kits in the office, and it’s pretty cool. Moreover, my rational brain has learnt the lesson of history and knows that my kids and their peers will integrate VR into their lives in a way that, on average, makes them happier. All that said I still have a gnawing nervousness that when they’re grown up my little babies could spend way too much time in virtual worlds with bad consequences for their physical and maybe mental health.
So how we adopt and use new technologies is a difficult and emotive subject.
Too much of the dialogue for me is focused on questions of whether it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. I understand that choosing one of these labels is a natural first reaction, but I don’t think it’s helpful. Technologies are just things, they aren’t good or bad in themselves, it is how they are used which matters. And technology isn’t going away either. Virtual reality is going to be a thing, whether I like it or not.
So our challenge as individuals is to embrace the good side of new comms technologies and to try to mitigate the downsides.