Much of the technology we interact with today is part of a larger group of ecosystems maintained by major tech companies.
If you have an iPhone, for example, you're often more likely to use a Macbook, watch AppleTV, or subscribe to Apple Music. If you shop on Amazon, you might also have their Echo digital assistant or a Ring video doorbell. And if you Chromebook, you’re likely to use Gmail and maybe have a Pixel. Fueled by brand loyalty, tech ecosystems are part of the workings of a healthy free market.
But if you’re going to commit to a tech company by being part of their ecosystem, it's important to compare the worldview of that company to your own and make changes when necessary.
A worldview is how we view the world and our place in it. It's our system of values and beliefs and the foundation upon which they are based. It involves what we think about the big questions of life - why we're here, where life and the universe came from, the purpose of existence, what defines good and bad, and what happens when we die.
We all have a worldview. It's not something we're born with - it's our thinking about the world as we age as shaped by a variety of forces: our parents and family, our community, those who educate us, our culture, our experiences, our reflections, our friends and colleagues, our entertainment choices, and more.
To really know ourselves, we need to take time to think about our worldview and the forces that are shaping it, for better or worse.
Our tech ecosystem can influence our worldview, so we should understand the values of tech companies we associate with, as well as the tech industry in general. A corporate culture exists at companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, and others, and that culture is based on a set of values and beliefs shaped by the mission, business practices, priorities, and perspectives of the leaders in the company.
The power of these corporate cultures can influence our own thinking and behavior over time.
Here are some key worldview questions to consider about the tech ecosystem in which you participate. If you find that the tech companies behind your favorite tech don't match up with your worldview, you may want to adjust your relationship to and investment in them.
What is your view of ultimate authority? In the tech world, it’s the self.
Operating on the idea that truth is relative to each individual, tech drives self-gratification, self-awareness, self-education, self-improvement, and self-realization. There is no higher authority than self, no higher source for morality.
How do you view humanity? In tech culture, humans need to conform to technology, not the other way around.
Tech culture is binary, efficient, automated, and formalized. There's not much room for messy humanity, informal thought, personal observation, or the greater good.
Are we more important than the things we create? And will the future be a tech-fueled utopia where man and machine merge? Or something else?
What do you believe about suffering? Many tech visionaries view suffering as unnecessary and think it can and should be alleviated or eliminated through technology.
Google, for example, has a secretive venture called Calico whose mission is to combat aging and associated diseases with the ultimate goal of solving death.
Reducing suffering is certainly a good thing, but we also need to recognize the role suffering plays in our lives to help us build resilience, overcome obstacles, and reach our full potential as humans.
How about your view of money? At tech companies, profit would seem to drive virtually all business decisions.
Apple's hardware is expensive because they take pains to build with high-quality components that appeal to our desires. Amazon tweaks its search algorithm to favor its own products over the competition.
Google offers free services and then uses every data point imaginable to generate unprecedented advertising revenue.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with making money, but when it’s your own data, privacy, and attention at stake, you owe it to yourself to take control of the relationship.
And then there’s the culture war. Many tech companies now take sides in social, cultural, and political issues of the day, and tech companies are no exception. They use their clout and influence to shape public opinion, police content, and suppress ideas they don’t like.
For example, research has found that Google's search rankings are not objective and that its search algorithm favors candidates from one political party over another. Can you trust a company that despises your worldview?
These days, we spend a lot of time and money in our favorite tech ecosystems. We owe it to ourselves to compare our own values and beliefs to the worldview of the tech companies we have a relationship with.
If they don't match up, make some changes. Don’t be afraid to drop a company or line of products in favor of something else. You have options, and you’re in charge of the tech you use.
Otherwise, you may look into the proverbial mirror one day down the road and not like who you see.
Andrew McDiarmid is a media specialist at the Discovery Institute. He is author of the blog Authentic: Thinking and Thriving in the Digital Age. His writing on technology has appeared in San Francisco Chronicle, The Seattle Times, The Herald (UK), BreakPoint, and Technoskeptic Magazine, among others. Read More Here.
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