Technology: Friend or Foe?

By: N8 · February 3, 2009

Maybe it’s just me, but everyone seems to be slamming facebook lately.  It could be that the few hold-outs who have refused to create a facebook page have become as dogmatic about their refusal as those people who refuse to read Harry Potter, not because they wouldn’t like it but because “of the principle of the thing.”  Whatever that means.

Of the jabs that Facebook has taken in recent months, some are hilarious, such as this bit from the guys at BBC’s The Wall.  (No, Grimbil is not one of these guys, especially not the goofy looking one.)

But not all of the criticism of Facebook and its ilk has been so lighthearted (though spot-on) as The Wall sketch.  To the countless stories of people getting fired because of a drunk picture of them in Vegas, we must now add stories of someone getting killed by their former spouse because they changed their Facebook status to single.  Yep, you heard it hear third, but this story has been making the rounds along with email comments like “another reason why I’m not on Facebook.”  A response is warranted, not on behalf of Facebook but on behalf of advanced communications technologies everywhere.

To these detractors, I say that, in the very same week, communications technology has saved hundreds, if not thousands of lives.  I’m not talking about websites run by the CDC that sort reports of food-borne illness, or the FBI’s Amber alert system, or even the fact that ambulances now arrive several critical minutes before they used to since everyone in the world has a cell for in an emergency.  No, I’m talking about the ability of the government to warn its citizens in the event of a national disaster.  Post-Katrina, Texas established a network of digital roadsigns which the government can use to aprise citizens of any hazards they might face on the road.  Thankfully, this system was in place and activated in time to warn commuters to avoid the rash of zombies clogging critical commuting lanes and generally delaying traffic all across the Houston area.  Seriously:

Actual Texas roadsign after hacker attack.

Actual Texas roadsign after hacker attack.

And they say modern technology serves no useful purpose.  Kudos to technology and kudos to Texas for keeping their citizens safe.

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