Personal Stances about Technology

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We conclude our examination of this gift of personal perspective by inviting readers to see themselves in the big picture of their relationship to technology. Below are five composite stances gleaned from a survey of over three hundred Cleveland Jewish adults in 2012. The meaning of the results is best understood through the lens of David Schon’s and Chris Argyris’ work on reflection. Few of us wake up in the morning and say, “Time to refresh and refine my thinking about technology.” We rarely generate new theories about technology.  

Yet we each have “a theory in use” that guides our thinking and actions on a daily basis. By providing the individuals who took the survey an opportunity to step back and examine previously unexamined assumptions about their relationship to technology, we sought to create a link between the intuitions that guided them and the values they espoused. One can understand this book as having the same purpose on a larger scale.

The parents surveyed fell into the following five  stances, which are more than purely descriptive, as they involve at least a modest claim to normative prescription –what one should do in relationship to technology.


Stance 1:  Adaptive Digital Navigator
It is quite chutzpadik (a cross between having audacious nerve and great arrogance) to think we are in control of this process. Our only real choice is to flow with these powerful technological currents.

Representative Survey Response:
Technology is central to my business and my clients’ businesses. I couldn’t serve them without it.


Stance 2:   Early Adopter
It is always valuable to be at the front of the user cycle. The earlier one jumps on board the more likely the person is to glean the long term benefits of every new piece of technology.

Representative Survey Response:  
It’s more than a toy.  Every new technology innovation is both a source of deep pleasure and a significant tool in my own evolution.


Stance 3: Heroic Resistor
While there are clearly some benefits to these new technologies, on the whole they have more negatives than positives. The key is to resist and find ways to create opportunities and enclaves of non-technological reading, exploration of nature, etc.

Representative Survey Response:
We do not participate in social media other than e-mail. It is just a mindless time-suck.


Stance 4: Educated Consumer
No technology is inherently good or bad. It requires the considered judgment of a parent or teacher to analyze technology in ever-changing, unique contexts.

Representative Survey Response:
There are a lot of great resources for the whole family and I find technology often speeds up response time so I don’t have to talk on the phone.


Stance 5: Moderator
In the tradition of Maimonides and Aristotle, moderation is best. Let’s figure out the place of technology in our lives and balance it with the other worthwhile things we would like for ourselves and our children.

Representative Survey Response:
I think technology has complicated life, but  if you don’t keep up for your children or yourself, you get left behind. It certainly is a form of entertainment but also a useful tool if used responsibly.


Guide Questions

  1. What stance mirrors your understandings and relationships to technology?
  2. How has your stance changed over the years?

  3. What stance is most prevalent among your various circle of friends and business colleagues?

  4. What stance did your parents or grandparents have?