This is a really powerful statement. I think the danger of technology isn’t in its adoption. It’s in the over-adoption.
Offloading cognitive tasks to technology can be a good thing. If I use the calculator on my phone, I’ll get a better, faster answer than if I work our a problem longhand. If I use an automatic rebalancer in a 401K account, I’m more likely to see long-term returns than if I try to do it manually and end up forgetting to check it.
But when we let technology happen to us and never gain mastery over any part of our lives, that’s when we lose something important.
Learning and developing as a person is difficult work. We all went through it at some point in school, and as adults, we have to keep going through it to continue developing intellectually, morally and socially.
Some tribes in the Amazon value times when there isn’t enough food because it teaches everyone what hunger really is and helps them appreciate the times when there is plenty of food. It also reinforces the importance of sharing that food with the entire tribe.
The hard part is that it’s up to us as individuals to choose what’s hard for our own sake. That could mean following a more strict diet, partaking in physical activities that are difficult, meditating, learning a craft skill or a million other options. But at some point, it means purposefully choosing to do it the hard way because it’s good for us.
To make that choice, you’re in direct competition with the parts of your brain that want a life of ease and lots of pleasure. You’re also competing with an aggressive marketplace trying to sell you leisure.
I think preparing people to make those difficult decisions is an important project in the modern society. Here’s hoping we get better and better at it.