Are We Still Capable of Thinking?


In his article, “Don’t Touch That Dial!: A history of media technology scares, from the printing press to Facebook,” Vaughan Bell addresses the fear and suspicion that arise each time a new technology emerges: how is this going to affect our ability to think?

“These concerns stretch back to the birth of literacy itself. In parallel with modern concerns about children’s overuse of technology, Socrates famously warned against writing because it would ‘create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories.'”

Imagine what he would think of calculators, automatic spellcheckers, and the internet! But is technology really so bad, or are we simply resistant to change? Bell argues that there is always going to be some form of new technology that “scares” us. But this fear will only persist until something else comes along — a newer, scarier technology.

“The Socratic warning has been repeated many times since: The older generation warns against a new technology and bemoans that society is abandoning the ‘wholesome’ media it grew up with, seemingly unaware that this same technology was considered to be harmful when first introduced.”

Personally, even though I have used the internet since I was about ten years old, I am a bit frightened (or maybe saddened?) by the “online” world we live in. This is mostly because I waste my days away playing on facebook or online shopping and find it impossible to resist the urge to check my emails (personal and work) multiple times per day. Instead of writing, reading, painting, and all of the other things that I REALLY want to do, I pick up my computer. Am I doomed to lead a life unfulfilled because of my internet addiction?

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