In one episode of The Office, the paper company of Dunder Mifflin just launches its online website where its customers can purchase reams of paper without the need of “the personal touch of a salesman.” One of the main characters, Dwight Schrute, is arguably the top salesman of the company. As a preview of what his character entails, he describes himself as such: “Three words: hardworking, alpha male, jackhammer, merciless, insatiable…”
Dwight goes on to challenge himself in selling more reams of paper in one workday than the online website can. Needless to say, with his persistence and enthusiasm, Dwight ends up completing this challenge.
Although this episode aired in 2007, a little after the first iPhone came out, it still applies to many problems that are still being discussed today: is the increase of technology good for society in the grand scheme of things? Or is it detrimental to human beings on some scale? Maybe both?
The exponential rise of technology in the last 45 years can be attributed to that of electronics, such as iPhones, tablets, and vacuuming robots, and to nanotechnology and quantum computers. Comparingly, this increase in technology production has also led to environmental problems.
There are those who believe such advancement in technology is one of the best things to have happened to humankind – and in some ways it is – and there are others who firmly believe the world will end one day and it will be due to the infiltration of artificial intelligence (A.I.). Surely, there are reasons for both schools of thought.
As shown in the above-mentioned episode of The Office, not all computers can overpower what us humans have to offer, and as Dwight mentions, the “personal touch” is supposed to be a selling factor when it comes to the business realm. The online business world and the physical one that exists in any mall or strip of stores are considered two different things, although they may sell the same things.
Many are against the idea of adding to the popularity of e-commerce, though it has its own advantages, like its lower costs and that you can buy items from all over the world. It seems as though many do not worry about these advantages when they believe that seeing the actual item, in real life, and talking to an actual salesman is part of the true experience of shopping.
On the contrary, the newest technology, such as Google’s near-instantaneous search engine, and our fast-paced cell-phones and computers, allow us to have access to information we need in less than two seconds. Needless to say, this is ingenious.
Many years ago, one would be shuffling through pages and pages of books at local libraries to find one piece of research needed for an essay, which could have taken hours, and now, all it takes is seconds.
One can thank Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the World Wide Web, where all this information is stored.
Technology also allows us to gain more insight and learn more about different practices and cultures around the world. It allows one to see the living conditions and lifestyles of others all over the world. It connects everyone in one place.
Now, people can come together in a forum and discuss similar interests, anything from movies to conspiracy theories. People are also invited to spend time together while being connected in video games, regardless the gaming format they choose.
Unfortunately, it is no secret that such advanced technology poses risks for our privacy. To find information about someone, anyone in the world, once again, is only two seconds away. The ways in which one can get another’s information regarding their social media posts, or habits, or search history is worrisome.
On the more local scale, public cameras set up on streets can also be seen as invasions of privacy to some, considering your every movement is being tracked, online and offline.
Technological advancements in medicine are arguably one of the best motives for continuing to seek improvements in such branch of knowledge. Cancer nanotherapy, virtual reality applications, and medical 3D printing are among many of the applications of technology to the medical realm. Such advancements save lives and reduce risks, which is indubitably the best use for something as advanced as this.
It is clear that technological advancements are harmful in some ways, but amazing in others. The length to which humankind has come in terms of technology is magnificent, however if it not used with caution and only used haphazardly, major devastation awaits us. It is better for us to grasp the same mindset as Dwight Schrute: “Am I scared of a stupid computer? Please. The computer should be scared of me. I have been salesman of the month for 13 of the last 12 months. You heard me right.”
Written by: Maria Dryden
Image source: https://www.bustle.com/articles/60101-12-life-lessons-dwight-schrute-taught-us-about-being-a-great-office-mate-a-terrible