One of things I’ve noticed as part of my regular stepping away from technology over the years, and from increasingly becoming more critical of what is happening, is that when people perpetually look at everything through a technological lens, everything is a problem needing solved. Technosolutionism is a serious problem for many of us believers, who are perpetually looking to solve “something”, and desperately wanting to be seen as the amazing technological problem solver hero. We aren’t concerned with whether or not there is a real problem there, or if we sufficiently understand the problem when there is, but we are definitely interested in solving it with technology, and being recognized as the person who did it.
Whether all of this is fueled by capitalism and a desire to make money, or a belief that Internet connected technology is the answer, or I guess a blend of both, Internet powered objects, data-driven solutions, and other mythical technological solutions are popping up everywhere. While most people might not notice the growth of, or the existence of technosolutionism, due to my presence so close to the factory I see it everywhere. I think we are hitting a peak in this Internet connected everything obsession, at least at a consumer level, but I don’t think it is something that will ever go away. Technologists believe too much in gadgets, even if the consumer demand isn’t always there. There are always enough believers to run out and buy something to send the signal that maybe this truly is a problem that needs an Internet connected technological solution, but ultimately the growth won’t exist for X, Y, or Z device to live on.
Think of the things we’ve been promised over the years from jet packs to augmented reality. Sure, these things are there. They are incrementally evolving into their next phase of whatever, but they aren’t the game changing, reality shifting, forever making the world different technological magic that has been sold to us over the years. I would know, because I’ve been in the game of selling APIs as a solution to almost everything for almost a decade now. In the API economy everything is a problem that needs solving with an API. Need to get access to your accounting information? Use an API! Want your car to be more fuel efficient? Use an API! Want to water your house plants while away? Get an API! If there isn’t a real problem there, make one up, and create an API for it. Repeat until you find a problem, and a solution that will generate enough revenue to keep the lights on, and investors showing up at your door. APIs are behind almost every technosolutionism fantasy of the Internet age—both good and bad.
In the world that I describe, you already feel pretty ground down by the non-stop cycles of perceived change, the information overload, and everything you are bombarded with on a daily basis. If you are working within this reality and you are in a position where you are taking a critical stance of what is going on, the ground down factor increases ten-fold. All of this technological growth and expansion isn’t sustainable, but being a critic amidst all of it is extremely unforgiving. I have had several severe burnouts over the last couple years, and feel the regular gravity of things on a daily and weekly basis. I also see other people who seem to be having a variety of breakdowns, burnouts, and regular outbursts questioning all of this technosolutionism. I really don’t have a point to this story beyond just acknowledging what is going on around us, and the toll it is taking on us all. Ultimately I feel like all this technology pushes us to see everything as a problem, which is one of the ways in which it makes it all so toxic and such an endless grind, reducing everything nice around us into a transaction and problem that needs solving—which isn’t the way we should be spending our days on this planet.
This article originally appeared here.