Does Technology Unite Us?

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There’s an interesting discussion going on over at LockerGnome. I decided it was something that I could use to create a video starting point – using this as a jump-off to even more communication amongst all of us. The original poster asked “Does technology unite us – or divide us?” Your gut reaction may be to start yelling that it of course unites us by giving us tools to communicate with people around the world at the snap of a finger. However, the same tools used to unite can also be used to tear us apart and isolate us.

A couple of years ago, I was attending college in Iowa. I discovered the Internet (as it was back then) in a computer lab. I typed a message into the computer and emailed it to my friend on the other side of the room. It astounded me to realize that I could send an email to someone on the other side of the world just as easily. From that moment on, I was hooked. That day was the beginning of my entire career.

Technology allows us to connect with like-minded people all over the world. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about gadgets, gardening or even beekeeping, we’re still connecting using technology. In this way, technology unites us via sharing our experiences with the rest of the planet.

It divides us, though, in the same ways it unites us. If I were to state that “I have an iPad and I like it.” Some people may not agree, which tends to create a small divide between us. When people hear (or read) something online that doesn’t agree with their views, they frequently lash out in anger. Trolls found in comment threads fit this profile: they’re angry outsiders who use technology to vent their frustrations openly throughout the wider community. They somehow believe that this lashing out is somehow useful.

One thing I’d like everyone to take a moment to remember: This is a big Internet which we all participate in. You don’t have to like the same gadgets as I do. You don’t have to prefer the same operating system. You don’t have to dress like me, eat like me or talk like me. All I ask is that you respect the fact that I’m different from you. Hey – I respect each of you and your preferences. Our online lives would be much happier if we would all keep that in mind.