Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Does Society Ever Really Advance?

My name is Jonah Hainsworth. I'm interested in the positive and negative effects of "advancements" in technology because my future children will have to grow up in a world full of these advances. 

This card is to introduce the topic question. The reader should be thinking, "of course society advances. Have factories and cell phones and computers and laptops not improved our way of life?"
This quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other," is from an essay I read called Self Reliance. This is my primary source. The quote is kind of the basis for my argument.
The argument is based on examples. These examples help the viewer understand the concept of what I was trying to say. This example, even when it was made in 1841 is even more applicable today.
Another even more current example. Digital watches in clocks have made it so that some people can't even read an analog clock accurately anymore. And I know very few people that can tell the time by the sun. 
This is a picture of a politician making a speech. Without the help of his teleprompter he stumbles over his words and is unable to deliver his speech. The goal of this is to help the viewer recognize that there are drawbacks to our advancements.
This is a huge part of my argument. The modern day meaning of library could be the Internet. You could change the quote to, "his Internet overloads his wit." Because there is so much information it is hard for people to sort through it and organize it. It's almost better to have less information to allow us to focus.
This is my final example and it's one I came up with on my own. I've noticed that some of  the old books and vases and buildings we looked at had beautiful and intricate artwork in them. Now, in order to minimize cost and because of the idea of assembly lines and specialization, common things are no longer unique.
Easy access to information has hurt our ability to learn. One day, I was writing and couldn't remember how to spell the word "acrylic." I looked it up on my phone and copied it onto the paper. Only the next day I needed to spell the word again and had again forgotten how to spell it. Rather than learning to spell words, we instead learn how to look up how to spell words. The end result is that we actually know much less. 
I found a TED Talk given by Amber Case. It made some points contrary to mine and some that supported my claim. She talked about how technology can be used as a "crutch" and I really liked that imagery.
I talked to a couple homies about my research topic. One of them is doing a semester long Internet fast. He is a student at BYU who doesn't own a personal computer and doesn't use the Internet directly. He says that it allows him to focus and he believes that he is learning better than ever. I asked another friend to try and do nothing for ten whole minutes. And I mean nothing. No phone, no music, no reading, no sleeping. He said the ten minutes felt like an eternity. He had a constant urge to check his phone or the time or to do something. Our shortened attention spans and easy access to entertainment make it hard for our bodies and minds to get the rest they need. 


  1. I like this idea Jonah ... I'm only now beginning to understand the difference between what the world defines as "advancing" and what individual and positive progression really is. Technology should lead us to progress with the times, not just allow businesses that use technology and social media to spew whatever they think is best on us.... I would even venture to say that we are digressing.

  2. I like the way you weave the quote throughout. I once heard that progress is assigning other "brains to perform more menial tasks (we let the mill grind the wheat for us, we let the sprinklers water our lawns, etc.) I think that's an idea you could delve into: we assign the necessary tasks to free ourselves of the work, but in turn, we make ourselves subject to the system.

    1. I'd love to incorporate that idea. Where did you get that quote from?

    2. http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=3273