Are we unconsciously worshipping technology?

Phones are officially boring: the only topic that’s up for debate with the Galaxy Note 9 is the lack of the iconic notch found on the iPhone X, and that it has a headphone jack. The notch has been cloned by almost every phone maker out there, and the headphone jack is a commodity that’s unfortunately dying. However, the fact we’re comparing phones with or without a chunk out of the screen or a hole for your headphones demonstrates just how stuck the industry is.

Owen Wilson, Motherboard Vice

Despite being almost no notable improvements to the Galaxy Note 9, it’s likely people will still buy this new phone in droves.

What’s crazy is that this type of unexplanatory behavior is seen in many aspects of technology purchasing. Year after year, we buy new TVs, computers, etc that are incrementally (if at all) better than what we already have.

Chalk it up to the “fear of missing out”, increased disposable income, or a mild form of technology worship.

Wait, what?! Technology worship?

Yes. Technology worship. It’s a theory I’m exploring basically proposing that our convoluted technology behaviors are the result of a collective worship of technology.

It’s not just based in the fact that people cry when they drop their phones or they moan when a restaurant doesn’t have Wi-Fi (although these aren’t helping the cause). Rather, it’s based in a more concrete definition of worship.

One major aspect of worship are the rituals and ritualistic behavior, which is extremely evident in nearly everyone’s technology behaviors.

For instance, I have a morning technology ritual: wake-up, check text messages, skim for groundbreaking news, and be mindlessly entertained on social media for twenty minutes. Rarely do I skew from this ritual and when I do, something feels off for the early part of my day. I’d guess that you share this morning ritual in some capacity. And there are many more like this:

  • Technology rituals pervade public transportation – rarely will you see anyone in NYC riding a train and not listening to music or scrolling through feeds.
  • Technology rituals pervade dining time – our species has nearly mastered the art of “eating with one hand while simultaneously scrolling with the other, never once looking at the food throughout the meal”.
  • Technology rituals pervade our restrooms – I can only speak for myself when I say that I can’t relieve myself without bringing my phone along with me. But, I’d guess that it’s quite common.

Everyone has their own technology rituals. The point is that only the conscious observer identifies them. Otherwise, they feel natural.

Then again, what’s worship without a deity and a doctrine?

In this case, I believe that technology’s deity is its doctrine – progress, convenience, entertainment, and commerce. To shun away the prevalent technologies of our time is to deliberately sabotage your career, your social life, and your potential.

Uber paid $1.07 billion to ride-hailing and UberEats drivers in the Bay Area last year, the company said Thursday. Throughout California, Uber drivers and delivery people made $2.97 billion, and nationwide the figure was $12.9 billion, Uber said.

Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle

I’ve had conversations with Uber/Lyft drivers who talk about these companies as if it is their savior – that they’d be jobless and lost without it. That type of rhetoric is only a few steps removed from complete deification.

Honestly, this doesn’t even scratch the surface of our behaviors that reflect technology worship today. I could probably write an entire book on the subject.

All of the above examples can once again be chalked up as an obsession, an addiction, or just repeated behavior reinforcement. Personally, I don’t think we’re being real with ourselves in any of those explanations. But, I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Are we unconsciously worshipping technology?