Technology can also obscure the humanity of the human beings we interact with. For example, the Internet is wonderfully efficient at distributing information and at democratizing the Fourth Estate, but it can also isolate and dehumanize. Anyone familiar with Internet debate understands this reality all too well. There is a sort of raucous and wooly community among the multitude of bloggers. It is always fascinating, frequently rewarding, and at times magnificent: a genuine innovation in free speech and republican discourse. But it is also conducive to meanness and slander. The ordinary inhibitions of human interaction, the natural respect and civility that should be extended between even those who disagree, is attenuated and at times almost nonexistent. The result is often a kind of disembodied aggression, a drab uncharity. People troll the Internet hunting for targets of animus on whom to unleash their polemical weapons. It is very easy on the Web to forget that you are actually in a distant way engaging real people. And in forgetting that, ferocity ensues. Blogging is spirited, but it often lends itself to rancor. At its best, it brings distant people with shared interests together in ways once unimaginable. At its worst, it reflects the radical isolation of technologically-inebriated creatures. In its glories and entangled perils it illustrates the truth that we must be mindful of all that is human behind our contrivances, lest they devour us.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Using Technology Humanely
Thanks to James Kushiner at Mere Comments for making me aware of this article on "Technology and the Spirit of Human Ownership" by Paul J. Cella III in which the author offers the following caution about blogging and other forms of Internet discourse: