Techno-utopians and acts of chaos

Techno-utopians seem to believe that technology can only bring good. However, the most popular recent form of technology which seems to be social media has caused chaos and threats to national security all over the world.

An article that was published last year in the Wall Street Journal called “Techno-Utopians Are Mugged by Reality” said that shutting down social media for an hour or two to prevent or stop violence is not considered a violation to the freedom of speech.

The article was published in August 2011, shortly after the riots took place in London causing a lot of mayhem. During that period, British Prime Minister said that governments should be able to shut down social media for a while in order to prevent and control acts of violence that happen. In the end, no one would suffocate or die if access to Twitter was restricted for a short time.

The chaos caused by the London riots.

The article also mentions a reporter who asked people in London whether they would rather shut down Twitter temporarily to stop and  prevent the chaos from happening or keep it up and running so that these people can tweet about the X-Factor. Quite surprisingly  most people preferred tweeting about the X-Factor. Hence the reporter concluded: “So addicted are we to our electronic connections, we simply cannot bear to be parted, for even an hour or two, in the name of public safety while London burns.”

I think people should consider the disadvantages a Techno-utopia would bring before assuming it is all good. The following is an interesting quote from the article:

As Thomas Hobbes would say, without the enforcement of rules for ordered liberty, life is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short,” both in the real world and online.

Read the full article here.


2 thoughts on “Techno-utopians and acts of chaos

  1. I don’t fully agree with the author. Shutting down social networks is a violation of freedom of speech. This act would prevent people from spreading whatever message they want…it’s the same thing as taking away a speaker phone from a protestor on the street. He can still shout out his message, but it won’t be heard by as many people. Also, I think shutting down or preventing people from accessing their social network accounts will only aggravate them more. They will only be more encouraged to commit acts of violence in response to shutting down social networks, especially those people who are relying on Twitter or Facebook to communicate…but I guess shutting them down does have its advantages as well.

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