Is Technology Killing Our Creativity?

Iron Man 3By Marcy Kennedy (@MarcyKennedy)

I don’t camp. I prefer to be in a place with electricity and running water. I’ve owned a Kindle for years, and I’ve been using computers since the only game you could play on them was pong.

I’m not someone who thinks the world was better off before technology.

But I am someone who’s wondering what our dependence on technology might be doing to our long-term ability as a society to think creatively and to innovate.

Reliance on technology hurt Iron Man Tony Stark.

After fighting the aliens in New York during the final showdown in The Avengers, Tony Stark—a creative genius—is in a tailspin. Every time he thinks about New York, he has a panic attack. His technology failed him, and he almost died as a consequence. Since then, he’s made over 40 upgrades to his suit, tweaking and tinkering.

At the start of Iron Man 3, what he’s ended up with is a suit that malfunctions more than it works.

One of those malfunctions strands him in Tennessee (he started in California). He scrounges parts to try to repair his suit, but still can’t get it to charge properly. With no suit, he doesn’t know what to do.

Then a little boy reminds him what he is. He’s a mechanic. The suit isn’t Iron Man. He, Tony Stark, is Iron Man.

His creativity created the Iron Man suit. When he became overly dependent on the technology he created, he lost that creativity.

It wasn’t until his suit was taken away that he got his creativity back. He breaks into the Mandarin’s mansion using items he could buy at a hardware store and rig in the little boy’s shed.

I wonder sometimes if we aren’t raising a generation who will have the same problem. All the technological inventions of the past 20-30 years came from a generation that was forced to use their brains and creativity apart from advanced technology in order to create it. But will the next generation be able to innovate apart from their current technology or will their creativity be stunted by it?

Is a generation coming who won’t know how to write, only to type? Is a generation coming who can’t do mathematical calculations by hand, using their mind? Is a generation coming who doesn’t need to remember anything for themselves because the answer is only an internet search away?

And if those things are true, will their minds be as sharp as the great men and women of the past who enabled us to reach this point in the first place?

I don’t have the answers, but I’d love to know what you think. Are we in danger of allowing technology to kill our creativity? What might be the solution if we are?

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