The Effects of Technology on Society

Judging the effects of something on a state of affairs requires a standard scale characterized by a spectrum that separates two opposite axiological points: the positive and the negative. The context of the present issue brings us to the question, What are the positive and the negative effects of technology on society? We raise this question this early so as not to be distracted by the unilateral notion that technology is always on the right track as far as its effects on society are concerned. This mentality gets prevalent because the loudest voices we hear and ofttimes choose to listen to are those of the fanatical proponents and users of the technology in question. Their advocacy achieves high-profile strength as media back-up through advertising blows out of proportion the spinned-off story of such technology’s best points. This strategy sways people away from getting themselves into a critical mode which generally leads them to a state of pathetic gullibility.

This line of concern does not, however, prevent us from coming up with a positive judgment. Rather, the challenge put forward is to engender a fair and hence impartial acuity on the issue of technology’s effects on society. This is deemed reasonable as the task considers the intermediary stages that run from one end of the scale to the other. We are therefore looking into the fuzzy shades that constitute the spectrum on whose basis our evaluation is intended to issue out.

Technology is generally humanity’s achievement to facilitate an otherwise burdensome endeavor. At the onset, we see the worthwhile intent that pushes onward the positive value of technology. It is not aimed to destroy but to build, not to obstruct but to facilitate, not to generate problems but to solve them. At the inaugural stage, technology is stamped with a pristine character that promotes productivity, facilitates proficiency, enhances expertise and advances competence. All these even transcend the individual beneficiary to fully embrace an entire society’s movement towards a higher level of progressive refinement. In this sense, technology fulfills its fundamental mandate in the service of humanity.

However, technology’s value is never inherent in itself; it is rather an attribution that emanates from its human users. It is also in the hands of its human users that technology could go awry and have its course diverted from its original trajectory. Technology that has originally been projected to serve the interest not only of its individual users but also of the society which has tolerated and accepted its operation can, therefore, lead to negative impacts when used irresponsibly.

In the post-modern/post-industrial era, post-modern technology has dominated the socio-cultural landscape. There’s no doubt that society has tremendously benefitted from the amazing technology that has continually been invented and innovated in a seemingly uninterrupted direction. Household chores, office works and factory operations that used to be a drag in the past have been transformed by new technology into no-sweat tasks. We are surrounded by amazing gadgets, equipment, and tools at our beck and call–facilities effortlessly operated at our fingertips literally.

In the present dispensation, the Internet dominates the post-modern technological scenario. It has brought us to unprecedented wonders in the cyber-world of instant information and facilitative applications. The exhilaration seems endless as we explore novel and yet uncharted regions that pop up along the information highway. We have even discovered recreational activities that enthrall our playfulness to the point of getting ensnared by their challenging offers to go on and on and on until the wee hours of the morning. We are caught flat-footed by the magic of this technology in the “third wave” civilization (with apologies to the late futurologist Alvin Toffler) which is more popularly called the age of information.

But what the Internet offers is not always beneficial to individual persons in particular and to society in general. It has introduced social network sites and exciting applications like online games that have led people to the point of addiction. Time wastage has increased and gainful productivity has decreased. Young people, in particular, would rather spend endless hours beating virtual adversaries, watching rib-tickling videos and comical photos on tablets, mobiles, and laptops at the expense of spending more quality time attending to serious school assignments or job responsibilities. In this kind of situation, the excitement seems endless and the passing of time is something immaterial.

Too much exposure to the aforementioned gadgets affects brain functioning and the circadian rhythm as well. In the process, what is actually affected is the brain as enthusiasts lose their sense of concentration. People in this condition cannot be expected to function effectively and efficiently in more serious undertakings both in society and in the workplace. If worse comes to worst, the whole scenario may even end up to be a serious case of a health hazard as people get too preoccupied in games and social networks so that they simply settle to consume junk foods and find it difficult to schedule a time for physical exertions.

Alone in front of the screen, they have put themselves segregated from their fellow human beings in the context of a community of warm bodies. A face-to-face conversation is no longer a common encounter as sending online messages via email or Whatsapp among others has become the order of the day. In this sense, socialization has been redefined in a way that doesn’t require the actual presence of individual persons in paramount reality.

In conclusion, we say that it’s one thing to cherish the positive effects of technology and it’s another to be conscious of its detrimental impacts on the individual and the society. We all want to enjoy the amenities and benefits offered by present-day technology but we should also be aware of their negative aftermath when utilized irresponsibly. We still have a long way to go and it is important to instill the positive value of technology to the youth of this generation and beyond if such technology is used with a high degree of responsibility, creativity, and efficiency.

(c)Ruel F. Pepa, 25 July 2019

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WHAT´S GOING ON?

“Life´s difficult.”
“People are suffering.”
“The economy is not getting any better.”
“The future seems to be very somber.”
“What is the government doing?”
“Are we heading to the dogs?”
“Quo Vadis?”

These are comments uttered and questions asked by people nowadays. There is a crisis—call it financial, call it economic, whatever. And apparently, people are caught flat-footed. Why?

Because they´ve been surprised and shocked?
Because they have just decided to resign to inaction and no boost up is felt from behind?
Because they are waiting for the government´s economic planners and financial gurus to come up with the magic solution?

Why don´t we act in this moment of crisis?
What prevents us from taking the first step?
Are we physically incapacitated?
Have we convinced ourselves that we just don´t have the mental capacity to handle the situation by our own efforts?
Are we waiting for some signs from heaven to pull us up from the present state of inaction?

OK. Let´s get to our senses. Let´s just think for a moment about some very common situations that usually happens to our daily lives. Let´s ask ourselves at this moment what we are supposed to do when we see the following situations at least in the context of our homes:

Touch the top of a table or any furniture and you feel some light film of dust.
You get to the kitchen and you find unwashed plates, pans, glasses, and utensils.
You enter the bedroom and you find crumpled blankets and pillows thrown here and there.
You get to the garage and you find the car smudged with dried-up mud on the wheel tires, on the side and back parts and the windshield is full of the dried-up remnants of dead insects.
You enter the storage room and you find a mess of disarranged boxes of old and worn- out objects here and there.
Now, get a clean sheet of bond paper and a pen and we will do some exercise. Write on the paper what you intend to do when you are confronted with such problems we just enumerated above.
When you are done, try to discover in your own situation right here and now similar small bits of real problems that you think would actually need some serious attention and hence your own personal action.

Afterwards, you don´t need to write the actions you need to take. ACT NOW!! STAND UP AND DO THE THINGS YOU NEED TO DO!! RIGHT NOW!!

Later, make an evaluation of yourself and the things you have and have not accomplished. About the things you haven´t accomplished, surely you have reasons why. But don´t stop there. Convince yourself that it´s humanly possible to accomplish them sooner or later and you´ll not stop to seek ways and means to finally accomplish them.
Why?

Because the HUMAN MIND is IMAGINATIVE!!
Because the HUMAN MIND is CREATIVE.!!
Because HUMAN IMAGINATION and CREATIVITY are BOUNDLESS!!

LIFE AS A REALM OF IMMENSE POSSIBILITIES

An individual is poor. . . .
Someone lacks education. . . .
Another can´t get into an undertaking. . . .
Somebody just can´t get rid of something undesirable. . . .
And another believes that an ambition is just unattainable. . . .

WHO SAID SO? . . .

WE are the ones telling ourselves all these things.
WE have programmed ourselves that certain things in life are just unachievable in our individual circumstances. But we have seen others succeed in those endeavors.
WE have convinced ourselves that destiny shapes human life and there are things that are not deemed for us despite the fact that ways to realize them are not entirely impossible.

WHY?

Along the way, we blame a lot of instances which we have labeled as OBSTACLES . . .
– Geographical location
– Government system
– Family situation
– A country´s economic condition

But even if there are some valid reasons to believe these factors, there are also more valid reasons to infer that in a lot of instances, it is WE—our own thinking, our own mental attitudes—who have created the REAL obstacles.
We are in constant interaction with a lot of people here and there and in so many instances, we fail to be discriminating with the myriad ideas they spew out to the point that we even tend to generally believe and swallow hook-line-and-sinker everything they say.

Unwittingly, we have been PROGRAMMED by these people.

But in REALITY, the TRUTH OF THE MATTER is:

WE are the ones who have programmed ourselves to MENTALLY create these obstacles.
WE are the ones who have placed these barriers in our minds.
WE are the ones who have put LIMITATIONS in our very own lives.
WE are FRIGHTENED to get beyond these limitations we have IMPOSED on ourselves.

Let us silence our minds at the moment and get into a SELF-REFLECTION. . . .

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

[Quoted from Marianne Williamson´s A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles (1992)]

WE are naturally intelligent.

WE are possessors of MINDS capable to capture in meaningful and exciting ways the PRICELESS TREASURES OF OUR OWN EXISTENCES in the immense landscape of LIFE´S POSSIBILITIES in this wonderful world.

WE are vehicles of being´s POTENTIAL KNOWLEDGE.

But life is NOT only a BEING but also a BECOMING. . . .
Potential knowledge must not remain potential; it has to be USEFUL.
Potential knowledge may only be USEFUL once it has been REALIZED in life.

LIFE is in CONSTANT CHANGE. . . . Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher said, “No one steps into the same river twice.”

LIFE provides us with the path to BECOMING.

POTENTIAL knowledge MUST NOT remain potential. It has to take the PATH OF BECOMING.
Potential knowledge has to be REALIZED to serve our PURPOSES in life.
An unrealized potential knowledge is an IMPRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE.

REALIZED KNOWLEDGE is PRACTICAL KNOWLEDGE and its fruition towards the betterment of one´s condition in terms of a fresher and more positive view of existence and a more fulfilled circumstance in life elevates this kind of knowledge to the level of WISDOM.

WE have to ACT on whatever potential knowledge we possess.

The WORLD OF EXCITING POSSIBILITIES is out there for us to explore and in the process make our existences much more meaningful and delightful.

We have to rise up from our COMFORT ZONES, move on WITHOUT FEAR and discover more challenging experiences that await us.

WE have to be RELEASED from the PRISON OF PAST LIMITATIONS.

NOW is the time to EXERCISE the INHERENT CREATIVITY we are endowed with. And like an artist before a blank CANVAS on an easel ready to be transformed into a colorful celebration of an exquisite work of art, let us traverse the bridge that separates the mundane and the extraordinary.

Let us be FREE from the HERD-MENTALITY that has enslaved us for so long.

Let us DEFY the limitations imposed on us by the programming of the past.
Let us re-capture of the EXUBERANCE of UNBRIDLED THINKING that gives us the EXHILARATING POWER to have a

CLEARER and WIDER VISION of the path towards a BETTER and MORE CHALLENGING FUTURE full of INEXHAUSTIBLE ENERGY to make our lives much worthier and more meaningful.
The Buddha says in Dhammapada (verse 80):

“Well-makers lead the water (wherever they like); fletchers bend the arrow; carpenters bend a logwood; wise people fashion themselves.”
*******************************

AN EXCURSUS:

The Artist as a Philosopher (or the Philosopher as an Artist) before the Canvas of Nothing

What is so philosophical–deeply philosophical–about the artist but her/his enormous capability to be excited/elated/exhilarated by the challenges of the Nothing. S/he looks at the blank canvas before her/him not as nothing but as a space of unlimited possibilities–a Nothing, a not-yet, a Becoming–that belongs to the future. The present Nothing promises a future Being–Nothing Becoming Being.

And all depends on a creativity that is purely human–a creativity that merges with a sense of the future that is likewise absolutely human, no more no less. Had this not been so, humanity couldn’t have seen the wonders of comfort, sophistication, information and ease that revolve around the present reality like a merry-go-round in a seemingly endless carnival of life.

Human creativity . . . a sense of the future . . . a philosophical defiance of certain programmed limitations where nothing is nothing, where zero is nothing. Rather, a philosophical affirmation that Nothing is something–that Zero is significant in the formation of hundreds, thousands, millions . . . ad infinitum.

The artist guides the philosopher. . . . May the former find inspiration in the latter.

At the end of the day, may the artist find a common convergence point with the philosopher so that the two become one.

The Importance of Sleep

All living organisms have a 24-hour cycle in their physiological processes called circadian rhythm. In our case as human beings, the circadian rhythm is basically “running in the background of [our] brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals. It’s also known as [our] sleep/wake cycle.” (cf. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/what-circadian-rhythm) This is body wisdom–something which is non-thematic in operation and doesn’t have to be thought of to be effected. It is part and parcel of everything that naturally and spontaneously comes about within our biological network. In practically all instances, it is deemed important for the well-being of our psycho-physical condition to listen–and listen attentively–to what our body tells us. The body reacts to the environment and a sensitive individual knows when there is too much or too little of something. Failure to listen to body wisdom often leads to a risky, even detrimental, aftermath.

Taking sleep as something that basically belongs to the workings of body wisdom, we now live in a civilization where it seems like people, in general, have already become desensitized to the circadian rhythm. By and large, busy people in almost all walks of life have already set aside and deprioritized the importance of sleep. It is something we can postpone at the moment and reconsider at a later time. There are a lot of responsibilities to attend to. Too much pressure beating the deadline while engaged in a project. Reports being accomplished within a certain period of time and submitted on or before a specified date. Within the vortex of all these circumstances, we have already gotten to a point wherein sleep has become a matter of choice. In other words, we can choose to sleep or not to sleep.

The common notion that has developed through the years in the present era is that sleep robs us of the capability, creativity, and consistency required to be classified as an “ace performer” in whatever productive endeavor we have engaged ourselves in. In this sense, sleep is relegated to the sideline of insignificance. Sleep, while one is deeply involved in a make-or-break undertaking, is a negative factor that can affect the final outcome of such an undertaking. Hence, the unwritten law is, there is no room to slacken the pace and disrupt the momentum of an activity that has been going on until the last leg is finally achieved.

This scenario is further intensified by the presence of modern-day workaholics. These are performers whose velocity of movement to accomplish the tasks assigned to them has created an adverse environment. They don’t only disregard the importance of sleep but likewise the normal ingestion of health-sustaining nutrients and the physical exertions necessary to keep their bodies fit and strong. Sleep, in particular, is taken as tantamount to laziness, negligence, and apathy. If ever the circadian rhythm “accidentally” hits their head, a nap is good enough to satisfy an unnecessary call.

All this conditioning is an absolute desecration of the importance of sleep. The general principle that sustains the non-negotiable value of 7 to 8 hours of sleep per day to the conduct of a healthy human life stands firm and strong. According to research studies done in the UK and Italy, “[t]he healthy amount of sleep for the average adult is around seven to eight hours each night. . . . Those who generally slept for less than five to seven hours a night were 12 percent more likely to experience a premature death. People who slept more than eight or nine hours per night had an even higher risk — 30 percent.” (https://www.healthline.com/health/science-sleep-why-you-need-7-8-hours-night#live-longer)

Furthermore, studies on the benefits of getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep have yielded results diametrically opposed to the common workaholic notion that sleep decreases efficiency and creativity and thus detrimentally affects productivity. The truth of the matter is spelled out in the following (cf. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/10-reasons-why-good-sleep-is-important):
1. Poor sleep can make you fat.
2. Good sleepers tend to eat fewer calories.
3. Good sleep can improve concentration and productivity.
4. Good sleep can maximize athletic performance.
5. Poor sleepers have a great risk of heart disease and stroke.
6. Sleep affects glucose metabolism and type 2 diabetes.
7. Poor sleep is linked to depression.
8. Sleep improves your immune function.
9. Poor sleep is linked to increased inflammation.
10. Sleep affects emotions and social interactions.

In conclusion, there is really no sane way to controvert the importance of sleep as a major factor in leading and sustaining a healthy lifestyle. Along with good nutrition and consistent exercise, 7 to 8 hours of sleep is an inviolable linchpin of a life worth living.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 18 July 2019

The Deep State

[Acknowledgment: This paper is partly based on Prof. Dr. Ola Tunander’s “Securitization, Dual State and US-European Geopolitical Divide or The Use of Terrorism to Construct World Order,” a paper presented at the Fifth Pan-European International Relations Conference, Netherlands Congress Center, The Hague, 9-11 September 2004]

The “deep state” is a concept that necessarily connects with the power structure of the United States of America (US). It stands in parallel with the legitimate government of the US and whose main function is to “securitize” the democratic foundation of the government as well as the institutions that represent and strengthen that government. It is, therefore, the fundamental responsibility of the “deep state” to protect the US government from both internal and external attacks aimed to undermine and destroy its democratic underpinning. It is precisely the reason why the “deep state” is more technically known as the “security state”.

The world, in general, has been conditioned to believe that the legitimate US government is the leading paragon of democracy. Hence it is principally construed that any attack against the US government is tantamount to an assault to democracy. This mental programming has created a condition that weaves the fiber of democracy with that of the US government. In literary critical analysis, we call it “telescoping”. In telescoping events, the characteristics and properties unique to each event are blurred and rendered insignificant to the point of unifying such events and hence making them identical. Expressing such a situation in the formal logical propositional pattern, “There is an x such that if x then y,” yields the following substantial statement:

“If the US government is democracy, then an attack against the US government is an attack against democracy.”

And to prevent such an attack against the US government or to defend the US government from such an attack, as the case may be, the “security state” which, under normal circumstances stands at par with the “legitimate democratic state,” takes control of the present abnormal situation using its autocratic power. In other words, when circumstances are normal, power is tilted on the side of the legitimate democratic state while in an emergency situation, it is on the side of the autocratic security state. This condition is theoretically deemed as a matter of exigency and therefore temporary. By and large, the essential dynamic that constitutes this state of affairs is drawn from the non-negotiable importance of “securitization” to defend and protect the “genuine” bearer of the ideals of democracy which is the United States of America.

Nevertheless, what we simply see at the moment is the epidermal surface that projects the finest and the best of what this “prime model” of democracy exudes. Yet, there is more than meets the eye. Under the superficial configuration is a more complex network of hidden infrastructure reckoned to be more crucial and paramount than any of those located overboard and visible to the naked eye. Like in the case of an iceberg, what we see is just the diminutive tip but the bulk of its solid formation is deep underneath. And this is precisely comparable to how the security state operates to which we give the alternative epithet, “deep state.”

What the deep state/security state is concerned about is more than the democratic state of the US government. It is more concerned about the massive business industries comprising the multiplex cogs of US economic enterprises that dominate the globe. These are the machines that are in full control of the US government. In other words, the latter doesn’t possess the power inherent in itself but draws its strength from these colossal industrial establishments of global magnitude. In this connection, what we see is a government beholden to big business industrial conglomerates and whose decisions and actions are incontrovertibly at the behest of such business industrial giants. These are the “omnipotent” gods that the deep state/security state defends and protects.

The whole gamut of this arrangement leads us to a confirmation of the reality that the socio-political fabric of the United States of America is just a semblance of democracy–a counterfeit democracy. Its government, contrary to the Lincoln formulation presented in the Gettysburg Address, is not “of the people, by the people, for the people.” The US government is of the big business industries, by the big business industries, and for the big business industries. What its citizens get are just the bread crumbs that fall from the dining tables of their “all-powerful” gods–the industry tycoons who own the machines that run the US economy. These are the mighty economic dictators who walk the corridors of power and are actively defended and closely protected by the deep state/security state.

The deep state/security state’s clout goes beyond the geographical location of its protected and defended “land of the free and home of the brave.” Its power is felt in every country where the US foreign policy reigns supreme. It dominates the western European region through its proxy known as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). In Southeast Asia, it lords over the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Its aggressive posture has been tremendously exerted in the Middle East as it creates all forms of destabilization campaigns mostly by way of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen with the able assistance of its destructive allies, Wahabbist Saudi Arabia and Zionist Israel. To promote and protect its economic interest in the Eastern European region, it has made all possible aggressive efforts to hold Russia at bay with veneer threats of violent confrontation if Russia reacts with an air of hostility. In South America, it has been fueling destabilization in Venezuela to topple the democratically elected government of Nicolas Maduro and take full control of the country’s petroleum industry. In the most recent developments, it has been challenging Iran into a nuclear war which, on the basis of certain honest-to-goodness assessments made by experts in the field of geopolitics, is nothing but a hot-air provocation, i.e., an empty bluff.

Focusing on what’s been happening in the Middle East, the main goal of the deep state/security state is to take full control of the entire region to effect the final success of the Greater Israel Project wherein Zionist Israel is considered to be the sole political power dominating over all the Arab nations around its illegitimate territory stolen from the Palestinians. This project which puts Zionist Israel at the central hegemonic position of power opens up the reality that the deep state/security state is not only a league of powerful American big business industrial tycoons; it is also a Zionist-dominated cabal whose allegiance is more to Zionism than to the US in general. This leads us to consider the fact that the deep state/security state is a Zionist-controlled syndicate since most–if not all–of the powerful personalities that constitute the deep state/security state are Zionist industrial tycoons who hold dual US-Israeli citizenship.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 11 July 2019