Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

The Power Of Virtual


Last week’s post spoke about computers as amplifiers. What computers do, is make things more so: bigger, faster, prettier, more complex, more simple, and both easier and harder to use.

The world’s information at your fingertips could be the ultimate education—or the biggest time-waster ever. Computers can make you smarter or dumber. It’s all in how you use them.

Powerful computers affect our decisions and our behavior. The virtual world may look safer than the real world, but people get into trouble when they become too involved in the virtual.

Virtual power makes computers ideal for learning, a safe place to practice before taking it to the real world. But that power can be seductive, making you afraid to leave the safety of the virtual.

Instead of preparing you for the real world, the power of the virtual can make that journey appear too daunting. Instead of a ladder to reach greater heights, virtual can be a stronger cocoon.

People are slow to see when quantitative change becomes qualitative. When Cyberbullying first appeared, those people said it was no different than it had been before computers.

They were wrong. There is more Cyberbullying now because computer power makes it easier. In addition, the Internet readily provides anonymity, even for those who never learned to spell it.

Since the invention of fire, people have believed that the solution to problems created by technology is more technology. Those who create new technologies are usually its greatest advocates. The Latin phrase for this is cui bono (who benefits).

However, the answer lies not in what we have or what we need. It resides in how we use what we have. It always has. Do we have the will to take action or do we let technology decide?

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