by

L.M. Sacasas, “Don’t Romanticize the Present”:

We are not obligated to love technology. This is so not only because love, in this instance, ought not to be an obligation but also because there is no such thing as technology. By this I mean simply that technology is a category of dubious utility. If we allow it to stand as an umbrella term for everything from modern dentistry to the apparatus of ubiquitous surveillance, then we are forced to either accept modern technology in toto or reject it in toto. We are thus discouraged from thoughtful discrimination and responsible judgment. It is within this frame that the charge romanticizing the past as a rejoinder to any criticism of technology operates. And it is this frame that we must reject. Modern technology is not good by virtue of its being modern. Past configurations of the techno-social milieu are not bad by virtue of their being past.

We should romanticize neither the past nor the present, nor the future for that matter. We should think critically about how we develop, adopt, and implement technology, so far as it is in our power to do so. Such thinking stands only to benefit from an engagement with the past as, if nothing else, a point of reference. The point, however, is not a retrieval of the past but a better ordering of the present and future.