Let technological literacy not lead to intellectual illiteracy

Technological literacy is nowadays spreading rapidly. With machines being used widely at workplaces, knowing how they work is often essential. But interest in devices goes far beyond necessity to fascination, even addiction; many people are hooked to technology. Amidst such techno-centrism, we need to remember that gadgets can at best be supplements to our intelligence, not substitutes for it. Otherwise, we may become over-dependent on them and end up inept at basic intellectual functions such as calculating or constructing sentences. This overdependence can hamper us whenever our devices aren’t with us. Even when we have our devices, we may use features such as auto-correct indiscriminately, forgetting that devices can’t understand meanings. Autocorrect can fail to correct the incorrect – and can make the correct incorrect. Over-relying on it can skew our intended meaning, with consequences ranging from hilarious to disastrous.

Even more importantly, machines can only process data and provide facts. But our life is most consequentially shaped not as much by our capacity to process data as by our capacity to process emotions and ethics. When temptations allure us, gadgets can’t protect us. Far from it, they can become channels that bombard us with temptations round-the-clock. Screen addiction afflicts especially the tech-savvy.

To stabilize our emotions and strengthen our ethics, we need spiritual knowledge coming from wisdom-texts such as the Bhagavad-gita, which remind us of our life’s ultimate purpose. Unfortunately, many people are so enamored by technology as to deem spiritual knowledge obsolete. They couldn’t be further from the truth. As technology increases our access to temptation, we especially need spiritual knowledge to protect ourselves from distraction. Those who think otherwise reflect an intelligence corrupted by the mode of ignorance (Bhagavad-gita 18.32).

Only when we become spiritually literate by making the Gita our life’s guide-book can we use our technological literacy constructively.

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