Don’t blame the tools

Tonight, at a dinner for my husband’s firm’s summer program, we were seated with a couple I hadn’t met before who are now my new favorite work-friends of his.  Where have these, smart, funny, fun people been?

Anyhoo, somehow (after a discussion of his dog peeing in his shoes for the past 10 years) our table got on the topic of technology innovation and what it can enable… or rather what has been lost through it.  And there’s the difference in our opinions.

His view:  Technology has made things so easy that younger people — even smart ones — aren’t learning to research and think for themselves. They’ve become fishermen casting a line and assuming whatever they hook and reel back is enough to satisfy. Their goal is to say they’ve done what they’re asked, not what they set out to learn.

My view:  Don’t blame the tools. In every generation, people who have worked and worked hard look at younger up-and-comers and their newer or evolved m.o. and accuse them of not knowing how to do things best or not appreciating what comes with good, clean honest hard work. It’s hard to blame technology for the laziness of humanity when it’s always existed.  People can just be lazy in more cutting edge ways. I truly belive this.  Technology and the ease of connecting, finding, deploying is not to blame — it’s people who will do enough to satifsy what they think are benchmarks, be it a boss’s requset, a friend’s judgement or a lender’s requirements.  People are people. I find myself reminding people of this often when they try to blame social media for people expressing opinions. As if editorial pages, suggesion boxes and even bar stools never existed.

I believe that good, smart people will always utilize tools better than others, and this is no different now than when it was stone tablets. That is not to say others who don’t strive to learn how to research better, who don’t strive to be more than just average anglers off the pier don’t somehow also deserve the fruits of technology. I’m not making an argument for merit or worthiness or value.  I’ve previously stated how technology is best when delivered to mass markets.

I just truly believe that people are people, and we’re universally imperfect… some will use their tools to get the job done, some will use their tools to look like they got the job done, some will fail with the tools they’re given (for sundry reasons) and some will just not even try to use them.

What do you think?

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July 24, 2008. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized.

3 Comments

  1. Tera replied:

    I am with you, and I will add that I think that the technological tools actually put an increased burden on younger generations to do more. We can have our email beeping on our cell phones while we are on a remote vacation, eating dinner with our families, or getting some exercise. These used to be peaceful moments in the lives of our fore-parents. They are now opportunities for efficiency. With these opportunities, our clients and even those who work for us expect quicker turnaround – immediate gratification. They EXPECT that you will get the email while on vacation, eating dinner or working out and respond at midnight when the kids are in bed. It’s not like a piece of paper sitting on your desk waiting for you to see it when you get to work in the morning.

    Of course, technology can be used to short cut. But people can short cut without technology.

    And I have to say that the world of information that is available to our kids is so much broader because of technology. We can sit on the computer and research something that we used to have to slog to the library and look at on MICROFICHE, for example. Who would bother to do that to satisfy curiosity on a whim? But we can do that with online encyclopedias, medical journals, research papers, etc., etc. It actually makes the work easier, which makes it more likely to be done.

  2. Roberta replied:

    I agree with you with regards to the fact that there have always been people who are looking for shortcuts and are lazy…sometimes I think that if they would spend that much energy on the work itself rather than how to find the shortcut they would find the effort to be the same. I don’t think it is necessarily an age thing or technology thing either.

    I am also going to comment on a comment from “Permalink”…I tend to think that if people are expected to answer email during their vacation, dinner, time with family etc it is an expectation that was created by that persons willingness to answer emails during our fore-parents as you mentioned may not have had the email, laptop, smartphones but they did have the telephone and a physical presence in the office. Today we are much more flexible in our work arrangements and locations. I work for a telecommunications company and I am surrounded by people who return emails at midnight or who are checking and replying to emails on their vacation (I admit I have done the same)….but I tend to think that we get ourselves into this rather than being involuntarily placed in a position where we have no “off time”.

  3. Roberta replied:

    Oops I meant in response to the post by Tera…not “Permalink”..sorry

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