Moral panics sensationalize.
Moral panic narratives suggest we’re on an inevitable path toward catastrophe. If you are worried about the women and children, you may be building up a moral panic narrative. Moral panic narratives present extreme emotional arguments that obscure nuance and shut down debate. Though these stories are deployed to block certain technological change, they aren’t without merit. Panics can be a good indicator of something important, touching a nerve and changing our relationship to time, space, or to each other.302
Progress narratives are seductive.
Progress narratives suggest we’re on a good path forward toward an ideal or better future state. But whose idea of the future is this really? Ask instead: Who is this future better for, easier for, faster for, more efficient for? Watch out for these narratives deployed by public relations and press releases.
Don’t blame the technology.
It’s people that both build and use technology. For example, Tinder isn’t responsible for a “dating apocalypse”and hookup culture, but it might amplify and encourage existing behaviors and activities. It’s more interesting to explore how, and in which ways, technologies and people interact.
Technology is always political.
Question rhetoric that suggests otherwise—“objectivity,”“meritocracy,”and “neutrality.”Technology is always optimized toward something, which is a human and therefore political, social, and ethical choice.
Is your issue with technology? Or is it actually late capitalism?
It’s easy to conflate the two, but often worrying about one means it’s difficult to address the engineers and developers who take that context for granted. And then we’re all talking past each other.
Technological determinism is making you ask reductive questions and write bad headlines.
Google is not making us stupid. Aspire to better.
Don’t pathologize behaviors and technologies.
We bring our issues to devices as much as they influence our behavior. Facebook is not making us lonely.
The future of ____ isn’t here yet, so we don’t know what will happen. And ____ isn’t dead yet, so don’t write a eulogy for it.
Those stories are tired, and usually no more than speculation. Usually the conclusion is that we just don’t know yet.