How do you define “technology”? Often, our definitions are bound up with the notion of change. Technologies change our lives. That’s true, but it can lead us to focus a bit too closely on the “our” part of life. What makes mobile phones tech, while we rarely think about wired phones as technology? Probably that wired phones haven’t changed in a long time.
Having returned from my various trips, I picked up a new pair of glasses this week. Actually, they were a second try at a new pair. We seem to be having a hard time finding the right prescription. It’s happened to me before, and when happens, it reminds me of how important even the most basic technologies can be. Without glasses, I can only see things in focus if they are about six inches in front of my face. Everything else is horribly blurry. Its the kind of thing that would really limit my ability to accomplish a lot of even basic tasks were I to be without them for very long.
And when the prescription is off, forget about it. As I type, I’m looking at a screen where the type looks unusually tiny, which, is leading me to strain my eyes to resolve the images. I’ve had the glasses a few days, but I’m still feeling mildly dizzy pretty much all of the time. Not exactly the thing to promote clarity of thought, extended attention, and generosity of spirit. Indeed, I’m spending a lot of attention on that low grade headache that’s there.
Long story short, this technology of mechanical human enhancement is not working out for me.
Another prescription is likely needed, with perhaps a different eye doctor. But I’ve had this problem before, so it’s more than an issue with this doctor. Most of the work I do is reading and working at a computer; vision at close range is critical. Yet, for near sighted folks like me, eye doctors work to make sure sure that long range vision is accurate. Indeed, we speak of “correct vision” in terms of how far away you can see clearly. 20/20 vision means that at 20 feet, you can resolve what others can see at 20 feet. 20/100, you can see at 20 feet what others can see at 100. My problem seems to be that when you go for distance, it mucks up the close. Technology solutions geared for most people don’t always work for everyone.
So, I’ll need to head back to the eye doctor. In the meantime, I’ll probably go back to my old glasses. The newest version doesn’t always work better than the old.
P.S.: All of this makes me wonder whether there was moral opposition to eyeball enhancement technologies when they were introduced? “If God had wanted you to see, he wouldn’t have blurred your vision.” “Perhaps you are meant for other things, things that require working with your hands.” “Those artificial eyes are the work of the Father of Lies.” That sort of thing. Even the possibility sounds ridiculous now, of course, but if this century is any indication, the first people to use glasses probably heard a lot of that.