Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.

Pfaff '14: The technology unpocalypse


I started watching a new show a couple of days ago. "Revolution," a series created by Eric Kripke, began airing on NBC this fall. J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk are executive producers with Kripke, and the three have quite an impressive resume: "Lost," "Alias," "Cloverfield," "Fringe" and "Supernatural" among others. The premise of their new show is simple: Everything in the world that runs on electricity stops all at once, even batteries. The show starts 15 years after the blackout and shows how the survivors have had to adapt without the technology they had so depended on, growing crops in the middle of their quaint cul-de-sac and concocting their own herbal remedies.

I'm talking about "Revolution" not because I think people should watch it, though it does seem promising, but rather because of the message that it seems to be trying to spread or the dialogue that it's trying to start. "Revolution" is the latest in the constant string of attacks on the amount of technology that we use today. "You use your iPhone all the time," it seems to be saying. "You'd be so screwed if you didn't have it, you stupid moron!" I, for one, wouldn't have it any other way.

As technology improves and our use of it grows, there's going to be more and more rhetoric deploring our dependence on it and insisting we stick to the ways of the simple past. I'm guilty of it, too. When I see a second-grader running around with their own cell phone, I can't help but roll my eyes and question what exactly her parents thought was so important about getting their child a phone that they couldn't even wait until she'd fully developed her motor skills. But far too often people are paranoid about the effects of technology rather than celebrating its possibilities.

"Revolution" is certainly not the first of its kind. The "post-apocalyptic" plot line has been around since the 19th century. Lately, though, even zombie stories such as the "Walking Dead"  have focused the narrative not just on surviving the monsters but also on living without technology. Similarly, stories like "The Matrix," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and the "Terminator" have "warned" us of the danger of technology "turning" on us.

People love to provide countless examples of others being technologically literate yet utterly moronic - just check out sites like Failblog and Reddit. It's as if there's some kind of inverse relationship between technology usage and IQ level. Keeping in mind the fact that IQ levels have slowly been improving - known as the Flynn Effect - let's take a moment to appreciate all the ways in which technology has enhanced the way we live. When Microsoft launched its Kinect system as an add-on for the Xbox 360, which allowed motion sense control and a whole host of new games, Microsoft's customers immediately tweaked Kinect for their own uses, turning it into anything from a 3-D mapper to a rudimentary control system for the air conditioning unit in their houses. You probably didn't hear that story, but you do hear stories of idiot teenagers dying at the wheel because they were texting.

Ask yourself, have you ever been to the Cave at Brown? Do you even know what that is? Look it up. You'll be able to look it up because you're holding a smartphone in your hand. And you know what else? That smartphone makes you more attractive to any potential employer, whether you like it or not. Rather than bemoaning the effects that technology has, we should make sure that more people have access to it. By closing the gap between the haves and the have-nots, technology simply becomes less of a factor, but it can still benefit everybody. In short, the prevalence of technology isn't the problem - it's the prevalence of technology in certain strata of society and not in others.

Or, hey, maybe we should just throw our technology out the window so everybody's on the same wavelength. Just to be safe, let's teach all our kids how to grow vegetables in the backyard just in case everything that runs on batteries suddenly shuts off and never turns back on again. We'll need to give them all bows and arrows and maybe even shotguns so they can learn to hunt their own food, too. We can take all the money from the computer science department to do just that.



Charlie Pfaff '14 didn't know where the Cave was either. He can be reached at



Powered by SNworks Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2024 The Brown Daily Herald, Inc.