Is Technology Making Us Sick?

My fiancé made the observation this morning that more and more, technology and machines are becoming an ever-integrated part of human life. With robots now moving into the service area, able to perform low-level tasks, human interaction (and employment) is becoming less and less of a necessity. While it sounds great on the surface, the thought of how “convenient” technology can make life, is it really healthy for people, and society as a whole?

Take a step back, realize how fast science and technology is moving forward, some parts being fueled by government subsidies, and it’s apparent that we as the general public (and even the human species) are struggling to keep up.

One example is the cellphone. Pretty much everyone in America owns a cell phone of some kind; it seems very inefficient not to carry one, but keep in mind that cellphones have only been readily available to the masses for a little over a decade. It’s a fairly new technology. Now, after the cellphone has quickly become a necessity in our way of life, there is growing evidence linking cellphones, more specifically the electromagnetic fields they radiate, to an increased risk of brain tumors (especially in kids and teenagers), and testicular cancer and damaged fertility in men (caused from keeping the phone in his pocket); there hasn’t been any studies concerning the effect cellphones have on female fertility, so it remains unknown. These kinds of side effects have been joked about since the 1990s (a line from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective comes to mind), but surprisingly there haven’t been serious inquiries concerning any health hazards of cellphone use until decades after their inception.

Now I’m not saying everyone should throw his or her cellphones in the trash (although the thought is tempting at times). I realize they are an important part of an efficient life. I’m simply posing the question that just because a technology is available, does that mean it should be used? Especially before we understand everything about it?

Look at genetically modified (GM) crops. I like to think that it started with a noble purpose: creating a more pest and insecticide resilient crop, which will generate greater and more predictable yields capable of feeding more people. But through excitement over the new technology, or anticipation of potential profits, any scientific studies to determine if there were potential negative effects on the humans (and animals) that ingest them, or their sustainability, were either hidden from public knowledge or never done. It’s only after 93% of America’s soy, 88% of our corn, and 94% of the U.S.’s cotton crops are genetically modified, which began happening in the mid ‘90s, that studies are starting to show a possible adverse reaction. Since human health studies are limited at best (whether by design or naivety), animal studies are shedding light on the repercussions of consuming GM food including: an increased risk of cancer, organ lesions, reduced fertility and eventually the inability to have babies at all. There’s also the irony that GM crops are starting to produce more resilient weeds and insecticide-resistant pests (what was it Ian Malcolm said in Jurassic Park? Life finds a way?), and GM crops are starting to produce smaller yields than conventionally grow crops. So again I ask, just because they could, did that mean they should?

Then there’s the recent double mastectomy by Angelina Jolie. Her doctors told her she’s predisposed for breast cancer and she felt the only way to save herself was to amputate both of her breasts. While it is incredibly brave of her to go through with such a procedure, it amazes me that this is the state of modern science: prevention with the scalpel rather than prevention through lifestyle. Maybe it seems too simple: eat this broccoli, pass on that bagel, and you’ll be ok. But what if it is that simple?

There’s an argument to be made that technology is an overwhelming cause of a lot of diseases that are common today. After all, technology is what allows us as humans to process and create the modern day types of foods that are linked with so many health issues. And the answer to fight that technology, instead of getting back to basics, cleaning up the food supply, and living a healthier lifestyle, is to fight it with more technology (surgery, chemo, etc.).

It’s a vicious cycle and unfortunately, it gets the most press.

Think about it, how often do you see a story on TV where modern medicine saves Johnny or Sally’s life and although the surgery, the radiation, the chemo took quite a physical toll, they bravely stood up to it and lived to tell the tale. But what about the other story: the man or woman who changed their lifestyle, using quality food (the best form of medicine), turned their back on modern Western practices, and is now thriving, disease free? Those stories are out there, they’re just not publicized as aggressively. Why is that?

Health doesn’t require hardship; it just takes knowledge and a mind that’s open to the idea that you can be in control of your own body through what you choose to put inside it and how you live your life.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all aspects of modern technology and sciences are bad. For instance, the capabilities of procedures in medical emergencies are nothing short of miraculous, air conditioning sure does feel nice when it’s over 100 degrees outside, but human health would be a lot better off if we got back to basics and cleaned up our lifestyle, as a species. Advancements made from a position of power or greed, not steered by a general need, should be undertaken with extreme caution, but as long as there’s financial incentive, there will be little change from the current path. In the mean time, those concerned with a better quality of life should take the time to educate themselves. Sure it could take a little more time and money now, to do the research and buy better quality foods, but wouldn’t it be worth it to save the time, the money, and the physical and emotional damage resulting from diseases that are being touted by the medical establishment as an unpreventable consequence of aging? Think about how much money is involved in modern western medicine, and today’s sciences and technologies; why would any of those involved want to change such a profitable formula? And the next time you hear about “the next big breakthrough”, ask yourself: just because they can do it, does that mean they should?

Robby Bell


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