The Internet is a wonderful thing. Without it, you wouldn’t be reading this. We wouldn’t have a website. And pretty much the last 17 years of our lives would have been all for naught. But it’s not the be-all, end-all of civilization, and the quicker you can realize that — and remember to unplug — the better off you will be. The quotes you’re about to read in this article may not have all come from the digital age, but they certainly pertain to us now more than ever before. See if you agree.
Sources: Quotes from Quoto.com.
1. Henry David Thoreau
“Men have become the tools of their tools.”
We can only guess at the point the Walden author was making way-back-when, but in this day of high-speed this and smartphone-that, Thoreau’s quote rings truer than ever. As technology becomes more efficient, completely eliminating some jobs, the machines-rule-the-earth science fiction story that began long before the Terminator ever came after Sarah Connor isn’t that farfetched. Sometimes it feels like we are in service of our mechanical masters, and that’s more than a little creepy.
2. Carl Sagan
“ We’ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology.”
This can go either way in the good-or-bad department. Science and technology does so much to make our lives easier, but one can never know what the future might hold. We’ve submitted some very important functions of life to the efficiency of the machine and scientific understanding. What happens if one day it’s no longer there to protect us?
3. Jean Arp
“Soon silence will have passed into legend. Man has turned his back on silence. Day after day he invents machines and devices that increase noise and distract humanity from the essence of life, contemplation, meditation.”
This truth can be seen every time you grab your phone to check something on it. It’s especially difficult when you run a website, and you’re glued to those analytics numbers. If you’re not careful, the whole quality of your day will hinge on how the traffic is looking as compared to the day, month, or year before. Throw in emails, chat notifications, social media, and any other distraction you can think of and you don’t even need to hear a sound for the noise to be deafening.
4. Dave Barry
“The Internet is the most important single development in the history of human communication since the invention of call waiting.”
Barry’s humor is always witty and insightful as exemplified here. The truth is, all our technological developments, like call waiting, like the Internet, have had an element of solitude to them. We don’t really want to be reached one-on-one. We’d rather get to each other later.
5. Alfred North Whitehead
“Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking of them.”
Where we are today is the pinnacle of human efficiency, and it’s gotten that way through the removal of certain impractical things thanks to technology — writing cursive, for example. While it’s easy to get cocky about it and swell up with pride, don’t forget: nothing lasts forever. What happens if the well of knowledge ever runs dry?
6. Daniel J. Boorstin
“Technology is so much fun but we can drown in our technology. The fog of information can drive out knowledge.”
Yes. Twitter feeds, news content aggregators, Reddit. There are a million things you can learn each day, but with each new thing, that’s a minute removed from your day when you can actually do something with your knowledge. Still important, even today.
What are some of your favorite sayings about the Internet, and do you think all the risks and drawbacks are worth the rewards?