The Flip-Side of Technological Progress


By: Zara Sharpe

Humankind has a lot to benefit from leaps in technology. Who would have thought 20 years ago that we would be living in a wireless, always-connected and always-on society, where you could call a family member or friend on the other side of the globe and see and talk to each other in mere seconds? Or that we would have such advanced automobiles that could, realistically, be driving themselves within a decade? Or that we would have machines that can look inside someone’s body with a level of granularity and details that surpasses the human eye, without even cutting into somebody? And as we celebrate these new developments and see how they are changing the way we work, live and love, we also know there is a flip-side to this all.

More recently in the news has been the pressure on kids nowadays (especially girls) to keep up appearances on social media. As social media now pushes the have’s and have not’s to the forefront (and the haves are sometimes even fake), kids are more prone to negative self-images and depression. On top of which, cyber-bullying and so-called ‘trolling’ has exploded the last few years. The internet, which has been a driving force for so much change the last few years, has really shaken up the direct environment people live in. This applies to our interactions with family and friends, but also how we function in society. It seems we are always ready to embrace the positives of new developments, but lack of seeing the potential negatives. This is not a new thing; it has happened in the past as well.


Take asbestos for example. Initially hailed as the material to construct with, due to its flame-resistant properties, it was used widely during the industrial age. It wasn’t till 1960 when asbestos fibers were found to be possibly linked to cancer. And it wasn’t till the late 80s before asbestos was phased out worldwide from everyday use in the construction industry and elsewhere. Nowadays we know asbestos is linked to four types of cancer: mesothelioma, lung cancer, laryngeal cancer, and ovarian cancer. The diseases themselves being bad enough on their own, as in most cases diagnoses will be terminal. What makes this all even worse is that the businesses responsible for installing asbestos (and therefore also responsible for removing it), in most cases, would have slow-walked making a decision based on a financial calculation. Therefore, if you are affected, you should contact a mesothelioma attorney.


As people are quick to adapt and embrace new technology, and slow to accept the negative side, so do businesses. It is a pattern we are all guilty of, and we would do well of slightly changing. This by no means we should stop embracing new technology. It means we need to skeptical about new developments and have a balanced view of things. Take mobile phones for example and the widespread use of sending data through the airwaves around us. Some would say that this much unnatural sending of radio and light waves will affect humankind in some manner. Does this mean we should just ban all mobile phones? It would probably be good to accept some form of ambiguity, and add some new sayings to the repertoire, such as: “if it’s too good to be true, don’t throw it out with the bathwater.”


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