I do not mean to rail upon the good graces of all electronic devices which have entered our world over the last century. There are many societal artifacts which bring tremendous benefits to most of us and some come with minimal costs. But each of these items needs to be weighed against their short-term and longer term costs. Many of these are not known at the time we sing their praises. It seems to be an observation (without empirical data at this juncture on my part) that the majority of the long-term unknown consequences at the moment of social implementation are usually negative in their impacts.
I was working out at the gym I belong to yesterday when I had a moment to reflect upon the better fortune I had to be using an electronic treadmill versus having to run outside in the inclement weather. This surely has to be a social benefit i thought at that second. I am exercising where otherwise i would be sitting at home watching TV or gazing at all the information on the internet. I do believe that there can be a real and measurable beneficial effect upon us as individuals and as a society by the innovations we create. The problem arises if over the next few decades people become leery of the Metroparks due to all that dirt and wild animals and eventually sequester themselves inside on treadmills and ellipticals and watch monitors and TV screens which show us beautiful pictures of what we used to do outdoors. In other words, if the electronic machines change our habits to the point that we give up things which were indelible to the human condition, then maybe we have paid too high a price for that very convenience.