More than how you use it

Scott McLeod‘s blog has gotten me thinking lately.  He just had a post about how wrong people are when they blame social media.  He is right, but he is also simplifying the issue.  I left the following comment:

Your simplifying this.  Yes there are ways to use tools properly and improperly.  However, some tools redefine what is proper.  Some tools so change our culture that boundaries are blurred.  It isn’t as simple as using an ice pick for good or evil.  If an ice pick is used in a murder, we can all agree that the act is bad.  However, the sharing of a video is not quite so clear.  Before social media a student might have created the video and shared it with a small portion of people.  Now, with social media, the act of sharing the video with a small group of friends IS sharing it with the world.  Perhaps the right/wrong paradigm isn’t changed in the example but the ease in which wrong is spread is certainly changed.  To think the good and bad of technology is “just how we use it” ignores the inherent trade-offs of all technology use.
I’m not against tech, but when we teach kids “how to use it appropriately”, we also have to help them understand how the technology changes us in important and sometimes undesirable ways.  Only when people understand that tech DOES change us can they make truly informed decisions about how to use tech or whether to use technology.
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