Many facts concur to show that we must look far deeper for our salvation than to steam, photographs, balloons or astronomy. These tools have some questionable properties. They are regents. Machinery is aggressive. The weaver becomes a web, the machinist a machine. -Ralph Waldo Emerson Throughout the course of human history, men and women have taken steps to make life easier. Going back to the allegorical curse placed upon man in the Genesis scriptures, that he should work by the sweat of his brow, men have tried desperately, to some avail to annul that curse.
Throughout the 20th century, men have succeeded in many aspects of technological change. The past 140 years, a short time in comparison with human history, have brought about some of the most noted technological changes. For instance, 140 years ago, there was no telephone. Photography was still in its infancy. The idea of an automobile was absurd, and the notion that a machine heavier than air could fly was scoffed. But advances in scientific discovery led to many changes in the thoughts and attitudes of humans as to what technology meant to changing society.
But, somehow, this advancement in human achievement is sometimes viewed with scorn by some of the wisest among us. Has these advancements improved our lives, or just changed the nature of the problems we face It is important to understand that the luxuries of yesterday somehow seem to become the necessities of today. Hot and cold running water, the in-house bathroom, the telephone, the television these were all considered luxuries at one time. But now, they are deemed as necessities by many in society.
They cant be appreciated properly unless one was to view societies where these items do not exist, or their existence is scorned. In modern times, we tend to work to eat, and eat to work. It becomes a never-ending cycle that traps modern western societies into thinking that this is the ordinary. But in many other cultures, such as the indigenous Tarahumara tribes of south central Chihuahua, Mexico, where most of their society has remained untouched for hundreds of years, technology has not affected the culture.
The society of the Tarahumara revolves around family and the success of the tribe and village. In American and other western societies, Americans continue to try and rise among the ranks in view of possessions. The culture has become enslaved to the desire to have the latest invention, thinking that it will help improve the quality of life to those closest to us. But the more machinery and technology advances, it seems that we are controlled by it more and more. Laws are passed to place restraints upon those inventions that they may not be used for illegal behavior.
Our jobs are sometimes placed in jeopardy by machines that are more productive and efficient. The consumer becomes enslaved by the idea that they need these new technologies to improve their quality of life. But when one spends time looking at societies such as the Tarahumara or the Amish, we begin to wonder who really lives a better lifestyle. While advances in technology have helped in our medical welfare, the changes in technological advancement have also brought about a moral landslide among modern families. The last century has brought on a moral decay in society.
Not all of this can be attributed to technological changes, but it is interesting to note that it occurred at the same time. Television has probably brought families apart from one another by parents using it as a form of daycare. The increase in violent crimes can be attributed to the media who seems to permeate our minds. Like Emerson said, the weaver has become the web and the machinist the machine. The very things we hoped to benefit our lives may very well be the things that have changed our culture. We have become slaves to the very machines we created to better ourselves.