By Mukhtar Ahmad Farooqi
Given the technological prowess available to humans today, culture has really radically altered nature and even blended with nature. In such a scenario, we need to evolve new ways of living, relating and experiencing the presence of each other. In other words, ours has become an “engineered nature “. By engineered nature, I mean a nature that has been so artificially and technologically created that it almost eats itself like a snake. In this context, we need to consider a term called hyper-reality that is the hypothetical inability of consciousness to distinguish reality from fantasy, especially in technologically advanced cultures like ours. There was a time when it was considered that the nature of a person was determined by its genetic make- up but now it is considered that nature is determined by how we are nurtured in a particular environment. This does not mean that I am against using technology that has made the entire world a village. But, being tech savvy I encourage its use to the extent that it does not engineer our nature and lifestyle as we see nowadays. Technology in the form of prosthesis has given an eye, limb ,tooth, heart valve, arm, hand and so on to the people needy of that and has given them a life which is worth living. In bionics, it has resulted in the manufacture of optimized and efficient products by studying biological methods and systems found in nature. A classical example is the development of dirt and water repellent paint from the observation that the surface of the lotus flower plant is practically not sticky( Lotus effect) .
Critics complain that nature –culture dualism is an undesirable Cartesian legacy. That is to say that we have to use technology to the extent that it does not result in the loss of one’s individual self and identity. Technology should have been governed by us but rather it is seen that we are run by technology thereby engineering our nature to the extent that an individual will lose its self. Considering an example, if a child is today asked by his/her parent to do some household chores, his reply is that “Dad/Mom I am busy because I was tagged in a photo by my friend and I have to comment and follow it “.
Another example is that when we try to rewind things just few years back people when returned home used to spend time with their family members discussing about what to do and what not to do but today everything is in contrast as whenever we visit any house during evening hours we usually get to see that everyone is bowing not to Allah or God but to mobile phone just doing chatting/other unnecessary things rather using it for constructive purposes. Albert Einstein once said that “I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” This quote is appropriate for those people who assemble together in any restaurant or tourist destination and get stuck to their mobile phones rather than interacting with each other. That is to say , we should use technology for learning or constructive purposes rather than wasting time by being online all the time on any social networking /blogging site resulting in becoming addict of that which is not absolutely necessary and devoid(ing) us of our social values and thereby engineering our natural ability of being social animals.
—The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org