A Pencil’s Intention

By Amy Duval

No piece of technology, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is never completely neutral in its intentions or purpose. “Technologies are never neutral and some are hurtful,” says Kirkpatrick Sale in his article from The Nation entitled “Setting Limits On Technology”. He accurately describes how some technology can be destructive, despite seemingly positive motives or intentions.

No matter how irrelevant, outdated, miniscule, or simple a piece of technology may be, every old Discman, every toothbrush, every pencil has an effect, an intention, or a purpose, whether or not they are still in use. No piece of technology is ever completely neutral in its intentions. Your toothbrush was created to keep your teeth clean and fight dangerous plaque buildup, the old school Discman was made to make music portable, pencils were made to write and draw. Though they all may have intentions, it is not necessarily true that all had evil or hostile intentions. It’s ridiculous to think that whoever invented the pencil created it in the hopes that someone might accidentally stab themselves in the eye.

I agree with the simple fact that some technology can be harmful; the displacement of workers who are no longer needed and damages to the environment can’t be looked at as a positive result of technology advancement. The elimination of the middle man as technology becomes more advanced is always an unhappy story. However, I believe that though the opposition to certain technologies may be strong there is no escape. No one can live completely technology free, even the Amish. Technology is inescapable; it is all consuming and unavoidable. The Luddites oppose all technology over which they have no control, or that “the use of which was detrimental to its interests”. This idea of the Luddites was full of good intentions, but in reality very difficult to abide by.

Though most daily used technology wasn’t necessarily created for hostile reasons, I don’t believe that a life without any contact with them is entirely possible. Avoiding technology is as difficult as avoiding your shadow, but I think avoidance of certain technologies is completely possible. If you feel so inclined to stay away from technology with hostile motives, avoid driving a vehicle if you oppose its poisonous emissions, try not to use the internet obsessively if you feel it negatively affects your basic social skills, and don’t create robots that can do your job for you and thus leave you unemployed.


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