Technology: A blessing and a gift, or a curse or worse?

From the blessings of DNA tests that exonerate wrongly convicted felons after years, and, in some cases, decades of incarceration, to the curse or worse of tapped smart phones unknowingly recording your private conversations, technology is here to stay and, ready or not, it is a force to be reckoned with.

Clearly, technology affords us greater access to health information, social media, and many other kinds of explicit information on people, places and things than ever before. It has made possible countless medical breakthroughs that have both created new lives and saved existing ones. The blessings and gifts are obvious. But, while emerging technology is amazingly innovative and aggressively creative, it is also potentially dangerous and for some it has even become addictive.

We have watched technology that was state of the art a few years ago become obsolete and replaced with newer, smaller, more powerful, more efficient technology that can performs hundreds of different commands as we hold them in the palm of our hands and use them while walking, talking, driving and who knows what else. We’ve seen lives saved and lives taken as a result of technology. Paper maps and books, wrist watches, wired phones, and many other commonly used items, are already a thing of the past for many, as iPods, iPads, iPhones, etc., reign victorious.

According to a recent TV special “The Facebook Obsession,” which aired on CNBC on Jan. 25, Facebook currently has 500 million members with a million new participants signing on each week. The program reported that more than a million businesses are currently on Facebook, with 700 police departments across the country also now registered. Police departments find the site effective in tracking various suspects’ behaviors and as a result have made some arrests.

On the one hand, families have been happily reunited after decades of separation, on the other hand, people have lost jobs, relationships, and in some cases, their lives as a result of privacy invasions. We live in a world where few, if any, secrets or personal information is guaranteed to be forever confidential. This was recently evidenced on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” on Jan. 24, when the world witnessed a 47-year-old family secret come to public light.

You might say, of course, it is a blessing to have so much information at your finger tips. Well, sometimes yes, and sometimes no. The bottom line: Technology is indeed a beautiful thing, but we must exercise caution and be vigilant and informed of both the good and the not-so-good.

As unique individuals, we all have different likes and dislikes. There are those of us that are almost instinctively drawn to the quick moving high tech ways of the world, and enjoy embracing every opportunity to learn more and interact with new emerging technologies. Some absolutely love it, some appreciate and are amazed by it, but make no added effort to learn any more than they need to know to manage their day to day job demands, and then there are some that are simply not inclined to understanding any of it.

Often, people who are very knowledgeable and who easily grasp emerging technologies are hailed, while those that do not embrace it wholeheartedly, or who may even be resistant, are viewed as inept. In defense of the latter group, we should think twice before making judgments. There is something positive to be said about those that choose to use their time doing valuable “people to people” and “community service work” rather than taking the time that would be needed for them to learn new technology apps that are likely to be upgraded and different in a few months. They are the ones who are just not that excited about learning the latest and greatest computer technology, but who get really excited about offering human, hands-on, tangible help to people. These, too, are blessings and gifts of the kind that computers, in all their glory, can’t provide.

So, that’s my point of view. Here is what some of our area citizens have to say about technology:

Larry Hollar, Oakwood

“Upside: what a treat to access information and people across the world in ways that were unimaginable when I was young. Like ATMs a generation ago, Facebook started for the tech savvy but is mainstream now for many people of all ages. But let’s respect and not marginalize those who find all this overwhelming and faceless — the tried-and-true ways to learn and talk are blessings of their own!”

Brenda Brown, Huber Heights

“Hackers that want your information can find it nowadays and it is not difficult. In fact, it is both amazing and scary just how easy it is. For instance, in the past, even if you wanted someone’s information that could be found in ‘public records’ you had to walk or drive down to the court house to get it, now you can access public records in great, great detail with just a click of the mouse. That bothers me. I just think it is too invasive. Also, we need to be very careful when putting our personal information, our kids pictures, etc. on social media sites because our children’s photos and other information can easily be lifted and misused if the wrong person gets access and decides to do so.”

Ronald Duckett, Dayton

“As a graphic artist, I have an enormous appreciation for technology. In many ways it is also great for the environment because the decreased need for paper will result in fewer trees being destroyed. On the down side, I have noticed that, although I almost always have my cell phone on vibrate and in my left pants pocket, there have been a few rare occasions when I forgot my phone, but felt a twitching sensation on my left thigh as if the phone was vibrating in my pocket when it actually was not there. That tells me that the constant cell phone vibration against my thigh may not be a good thing. So, at the end of the day, technology has its pluses and minuses.”

Leloni Taguacta, Dayton

“When my brother was missing, we were able to track his location and find him through the use of technology, so that was truly a blessing. But, the down side is that the same tracking technology can potentially result in drama situations between boyfriends and girlfriends and husbands and wives.”

Dr. Marjorie Baker is a recently retired Associate Professor from Wright State University. For more information on her credentials, teaching background, accomplishments, research and publications, visit her website at

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