A Fear of Technology
Professor Abné M. Eisenberg
Published: August 14, 2013   |
Updated: August 14, 2013 at 01:47 PM
Technophobia is a fear of technology. It applies to people who feel that technology is taking over their life, especially their civil liberties and human freedom. Then, there are technophiliacs – people who love technology because it provides a wide variety of choices and makes doing things easier and more accessible.
Technophobia began with the Industrial Revolution where machines replaced skilled craftsmen depriving them of ability to earn a living and support their families. Many outstanding thinkers at the time believed that the technological changes that were taking place constituted a dangerous tampering with Mother Nature.
The technology that created computers ushered in a phenomenon called cyberspace. Because it guarantees a certain amount of anonymity, technophobes insist that it is having a depersonalizing impact upon civilization. It encourages people to say and do things they would never do in real life.
Since almost 50% of many populations are intimidated by computers, manufacturers attempt to minimize this anxiety by including user-friendly software with their product.
The incidence of technophobia is higher among the elderly because it threatens their control over everyday living. They reject the optimistic notion that more sophisticated technological advances in the future will make their life safer and easier to manage.
Reasonable techno-philiacs understand that any powerful technology can be put to a good or evil purpose. A major stumbling block technology faces is its impact on ethical and moral behavior. When it ventures into the realm of genetic engineering, stem-cell research, and cloning, it encounters considerable public resistance.
Regardless of whether you suffer from technophobia or technophilia, whether you approve or disapprove of technology, the difference only matters if you act out that difference in a closed-minded and counter-productive way.
Just when those most fearful of technology think they have gotten a grasp on how to deal with it, they are confronted by new and even more complicated technologies.
Only a few of us are old enough to remember the New York World's Fair of 1939. Its theme was “Building the World of Tomorrow.” Many exhibits depicted how future technology would alter our lives. It addressed topics such as refrigeration, automobile speed and design, creative film-making, taller skyscrapers, interconnected highway systems, supersonic aircraft, mass media communication, and automation. Many of these predictions, in the past seven decades, have since been abandoned and replaced by new groundbreaking technology.
For those willing to admit they fear technology, here is something to remember. When driving your car, you may have done it while listening to the radio, chatting with the person sitting next to you, sipping a cup of coffee, and remembering the route, all at the same time. You were not able to do this when you first learned to drive. This principal illustrates that a fear of technology can be overcome if it is approached in the same way you approached learning how to drive.
Remaining calm and having a sincere desire to succeed is important. Instead of trying to conquer your fear in one giant step, break down your approach into small easily understood single steps. Do this and your fear should slowly melt away. As the old axiom says, “If at first you don't succeed, try again.”
- Professor Eisenberg was born in New York City and now lives in Belleair Bluffs. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps in World War II. His career consisted of teaching interpersonal/intercultural communication, public speaking, organizational communication, nonverbal communication, group dynamics, and persuasion at four major universities including Pace University and Manhattanville College in New York. His publications include fifteen textbooks on various aspects of communication.