Technology vs The Good Life

Since the beginning of time, a key human goal is to progress their current state of technology. Humans are never happy with what they already have achieved, and always must push forward to pioneer better technology for their country or the world. Simple ideas become overwhelming ideas that we have begun to misuse and obsess over. So how does that affect our daily lives? Probably a lot more than you might think.

Aristotle’s idea of the good life is one where we are capable of contemplation and we are able to use the life of reason to achieve happiness. Contemplation allows us to better our lives and work out our issues. But in today’s world, does technology in fact take away those abilities from us? In our world today, we have less and less time to spend on other things besides school or work, and now since our society has been dominated by the internet and the smart phone, we are eliminating that time all together.

Living up to the full potential of humanity entails, in Aristotle’s view, the human ability to contemplate. In this view, contemplation ” is both the highest form of activity (since the intellect is the highest thing in us, and the objects that it apprehends are the highest things that can be known), and also it is the most continuous, because we are more capable of continuous contemplation than we are of any practical activity.”  To live the life that Aristotle considers to be good, we must have the time to contemplate to therefore actually contemplate in life. So when our time to contemplate is as limited as it is, and is getting less and less each year and generation, do we not live the good life anymore? So if that were not the case, if humans are starting to become less capable of contemplation, then where does that leave us?

A study on  Huffington Post says that nearly 58% of U.S citizens check their cellphones at least every hour and 54% of U.S citizens check their phones in bed, whether before going to sleep, when they wake up, or both. This shows that Americans are slowly losing their free time due to technology! We are putting a halt on contemplating and using time to just think about our lives so that we can spend that time looking at others on social media, playing games, or talking on the phone. 92% of teens report going online daily and 24% report going on constantly. So is Technology really interfering with the way to achieve the good life?

When we look around us and we look at the facts, an answer becomes obvious. We walk down the street and see almost everyone on their cellphones. We see people use them at dinners, in group settings, and everywhere. We see videos of people walking into doors or falling downstairs because they are on their phones. Possibly the most frightening is that there is a constant issue of deaths and injuries because people choose to use their cellphones while they are driving. If we cannot take a break from our phones to drive safely, then no wonder our ability to contemplate has disappeared. With the amount of cellphone use we actually see, it becomes plainly obvious that technology did and still is interfering with our ability to contemplate and therefore live the good life in Aristotle’s view.

Technology does consume a large portion of our lives, which may keep us from contemplating, but it also gives us a larger horizon of things throughout our world. We now have unlimited access to data bases, news sites, and social media which can all give us expanded information on the events of our world today. Before the internet was invented, it could take hours to look through a library for information, and it could take up to months to find out about current events. Today, we have almost immediate access to those things. For example, when the terrorist attacks on Paris, France happened, the world knew immediately and could give out support and love. So, technology in many ways expands the minds of humans, therefore, making contemplation more meaningful.

So then, knowing both sides, does technology really diminish our ability to live the good life?

The answer in my opinion, is yes. While their are good things, the bad outweigh them.

Despite the amazing things technology can do for us, there is one fundamental flaw. We misuse it. While things such as the cellphone were invented for easy communication, we have taken it to the point where we must have nonstop communication with others. A study from Business Insider shows that people aged 18 to 24 with cellphones send around 67 texts per day. This can expand rapidly with the amount of people they text on a daily basis. So with this kind of time spend texting, the innocent concept of fast communication has turned into a huge obsession over constant communication. An article read in the sophomore religion class at Ursuline Academy says that texting can even be the cause of bad relationships between people. The constant communication between people leaves them nothing to talk about in person, making each generation more and more social awkward.

While obviously Aristotle did not have the advanced technology we have today, humanity’s overuse of electronics is extreme in our time. One of the prime examples of this is how often education is disregarded. A study done at University of Haifa shows that 94% of students used their phone during class over the previous years. In addition, asking students around Ursuline Academy of Dallas, 2 out of 5 students admit to using their cellphones at least once in class. Technology has the ability to concentrate away from many students, it’s no wonder that we have no time for contemplation. There is an overwhelming and constant need for us to check our cellphones, reply to texts, scan through social media, and update our statuses, and this need replaces our time for  contemplation and learning.

Thus new generation is coming into a world where,  in the view of Aristotle, they cannot thrive because of the declining option of contemplating. A study from ABC News Chicago says that 53% of kids get a cellphone at or around age six.  Age six is a time in which a child is beginning to expand their learning, and they are supposed to be jumping into education to form their minds and expand their knowledge. That means that it is barely even their choice to give up contemplation for technology. The technology they are being given is detrimental to part of their learning. Recently a video was published of a child tapping a paperback book like an IPad to try and change the page. What kind of learning is that child receiving:? We are starting to push our kids down the path of technological dependence at a very young age, and it should be frankly quite terrifying.

Humanity needs to realize that our standards of the fullness of life are falling, and in the Aristocratic view, we are now unable to live the Good life.  Our obsession over the constant use of electronics has doomed our generation and the generations to come to technological dependency, and we slowly start to lose social skills and the time that we need to contemplate our lives. The death toll of people in accidents due to texting and driving continues to increase, and we still are incapable of halting the use of our technology. Contemplating our lives seems as something that was left in the age of Aristotle, and our lives are not as full and good due to that. We are constantly falling victim to the overproduction of cellphones, laptops, tablets and more so that while we give big corporations like Apple a ton of money, we are in a way paying for our quality of life to decrease.

Katie Boston



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