In today’s New York Times, David Brooks laments the decline in decency in this age of technology. He writes that the wired world encourages “an attitude of contingency,” and “an atmosphere of general disenchantment,” when it comes to dating. In the mating race, he says, have become comparison shoppers.
My question is: what’s wrong with that?
David Brooks is horrified at the ease with which men and women, of all ages, are connecting and disconnecting. And that should give us pause. But it should not lead to false alarm.
There is much to be worried about when we see teenagers recklessly dabbling in sex and dehumanizing the act. But Brooks’s comments aren’t targeted at teenagers. They’re targeted at us.
When television was first introduced many worried about the moral degradation of our society. What would happen to us if we actually saw Lucy & Ricky sleeping in the same bed? Or Carol & Mike Brady? Would we conclude that they were actually, oh my, having, oh dear, sex?!?!
For some, sex is a sacred subject. We should respect them and their views.
However, we should not impose that view on all of society. Nor should we demonize technology, in the same way we should not demonize books, as the culprit for moral degradation.
Technology has given, for the first time, billions their first taste of freedom. In Africa, mobile phones have allowed rural farmers to connect to distributors in order to sell their crops at market prices.
In Iran, technology propelled a rebellion against a repressive regime.
Throughout the world, technology has empowered women. I’m not talking about the ease with which women can now connect with men in a relatively safe environment, and no longer at bars.
Technology has allowed women to connect to one another as well as connect to information. This is profoundly important in repressive societies around the world where women are not allowed to work or choose their partners; where women have absolutely no choices at all.
Technology has allowed these women to find answer and seek solace by connecting to other women (and men) around the world. Technology has become the place where women can turn to for choices and solutions.
And that’s precisely the point, Mr. Brooks. Technology has raised awareness, making our world more conscientious. And dare I say it, decent.