Mr. Shane Richardson
10 October 2014
The Harm of Technology
In the book Hamlet’s Blackberry, the author, William Powers, is trying to open teens’ eyes and make them realize that there is a world outside of their computer screens and cellphones. Powers tries to persuade the reader by using his personal life stories and experiences. He says, “Whenever I open the gap between myself and my screens, good things happen” (Powers 209). In chapter twelve, “Not So Busy”, Powers tells the reader about how the different philosophers like Plato, Seneca, Gutenberg, Shakespeare, Franklin, Thoreau, and McLuhan got away from everyday busyness. He also includes present day examples for the reader so they can do the same. Powers uses a relatable tone and everyday examples in exploring his claims, as well as utilizing the work of famous philosophers to support his ideas and establish creditability, in order to persuade a teenage audience to see the world beyond a screen.
Powers believes if society continues on this path, over time the costs of life will erase all the benefits (209). He brings in the philosophers stories of how they would “get away” from everything happening to support his theory. Each philosopher was used to describe a different way to have time to reflect and get away from the technological world. Distance, Inner Space, Technologies of Inwardness, Old Tools Ease Overload, Positive Rituals, Walden Zones, and Lowering the Inner Thermostat are all different principles that Powers uses to teach the reader how escape. In Plato’s story Socrates and his friend went for a walk to escape the busyness of Athens. Powers then goes on to explain how people today go on walks to escape the real world too but they don’t actually escape. People take their phones with them everywhere because they can’t leave them behind. Powers says, “It’s a psychic leash, and the mind can feel it tugging. That’s the problem: we’ve gotten so used to the tug, its hard to imagine life without it” (211). Being completely disconnected is hard to do but people need to try to find time or a place to be completely disconnected for a little while. They never know what will happen; they might find their own piece of mind.
Powers’ relatable tone helps him present himself as a creditable author. His tone is very persuasive and asks the reader series of questions to get them thinking. “Why don’t I have time to think? What’s this lost, restless feeling I can’t seem to shake? Where does the crowd end, and where do I begin?” (Powers 210). There is a certain level of how connected people today need to be to each other. People are tied down to their phones and social media and forget to disconnect every once in a while. Powers says, “As human connectedness advances, it always makes life busier, by creating new crowds” (Powers 210). The more connected the world begins to get, the busier peoples lives become. Powers wants the reader to understand that there is a happy medium between the two. When society gets caught up in technology, the whole world suffers. We stop paying attention to the other people directly around us. Powers tone makes the reader question themself and look for some signs of them being too connected. His relatable tone helps his examples and questions have significance and meaning that get the reader to think and analyze their decisions.
One of the philosophers Powers writes about, McLuhan discusses lowering the inner thermostat. McLuhan switched from a smart phone back to a basic cellphone so he could disconnect himself. The only problem he had with getting rid of his smartphone was not being able to follow his favorite baseball team. Of course, there was a way around it; he could use the radio coverage on his generic phone to listen to the games. There are many ways like this to disconnect from technology. This everyday example reinsures the reader that there are many achievable small tasks that could make a world of a