What Technology Cultivates


Michael Hyatt makes the best arguments I’ve heard for using social media. In his blog post “Answers to the Top 10 Twitter Objections” he writes:

“Twitter is one of those things that merely amplifies what you already are. If you are narcissistic, then Twitter will give you a way to become even more narcissistic. But you won’t attract many followers. The key to that is being genuinely other-centered and generous. In fact, that is precisely the thing that gets other people’s attention and is rewarded on Twitter. ”

I’ve thought about going off the social media grid. But the thing that’s kept me on it is seeing posts that do reach-out, enlighten, or show a new side of an old friend.

In a 1987 interview titled, “Why I am not going to buy a computer,” published by the New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly Wendell Berry argues the other side. Here is one of his rules for the acceptable use of technology:

(9) It should not replace or disrupt anything good that already exists, and this includes family and community relationships.

Reflecting these values is one of Berry’s greatest gifts. Through his characters he has described the subtle intricacies of the “in-betweeness” created through places, communities, and each other.

Better Writing

My computer makes me faster, simplifies editing, and greatly improves my spelling. Twitter helps with pith. Facebook makes me ponder the worth of my thoughts before launching them to countless friends. But am I losing something too? Again Wendell Berry:

“My final and perhaps mv best reason for not owning a computer is that I do not wish to fool myself. I disbelieve, and therefore strongly resent, the assertion that I or anybody else could write better or more easily with a computer than with a pencil. I do not see why I should not be as scientific about this as the next fellow: when somebody has used a computer to write work that is demonstrably better than Dante’s, and when this better is demonstrably attributable to the use of a computer, then I will speak of computer with a more respectful tone of voice, though I still will not buy one.”


I live far from my childhood home. My friends are scattered across the globe. Facebook, email, and Skype help keep these scattered pieces of me sewn together. But then there are the times I’ve seen ugly words. Hurt feelings. A judgement. And I wonder…

What do you think?

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