Another dot in the blogosphere?

Face it

Posted on: January 27, 2020

The Pessimists Archive podcasts are few and far between. But when they are released, they are a joy to listen to.

The latest one focused on faces. As in the unwarranted fears of how technologies might affect your visage, e.g., smartphone face, tech neck.

The narrator revisited history to uncover what bicycle face and radio face had in common: The use of those then new technologies supposedly caused people’s faces to get wrinkled or stuck in unpleasant ways.

When the rotary telephone gained popularity, it was phone face that caused worry. But phone face was not about the neck crick or longer jowls caused by cradling the phone. It was about not knowing exactly who was calling.

All this was not just about fear-mongering incumbents putting down their competition. In the case of wrinkly faces, cosmetic companies claimed to have remedies for the affected faces.

Whatever the reason for the putdowns, generating fear of the new was the goal. The narrator had a response at around the 34-minute mark of the podcast:

New, uncontrollable things don’t wholesale replace old, controllable things. Instead new technologies integrate into an existing and ever-growing ecosystem. They create more options and therefore even more control.

Technology laggards need to be made aware of this. Technology evangelists could focus on such a message instead. Even if the laggards do not adopt the newer technologies, they might step out of the way for others to try. We all need to face our fears by replacing unquestioned ignorance with critically negotiated knowledge.

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