What the word technology actually means

In this digital age of ever-changing technological innovation, it is easy to forget what the word technology really means. In our modern lingo, it tends to refer to the machines and gadgets around us that we interact with on a daily basis. It does include these things, but it also includes the manufactured firelog burning on a cold night, the plastic bags into which we put our snacks, our children’s Play-doh, umbrellas, lightbulbs, picture frames, bicycles, book binding, lawnmowers…you get the idea. Technology is basically anything that humans have invented.

If we hop over to Dictionary.com, we see technology defined broadly as “the branch of knowledge that deals with the creation and use of technical means and their interrelation with life, society, and the environment.” More concisely, the word can also be used as “the sum of the ways in which social groups provide themselves with the material objects of their civilization.” The word comes from the Greek word part tekhno, a combining form of tekhne, “art, skill, craft, method, or system.” When combined with the Greek root logos, or study of, we end up with technology.

We often use the word to relate to the innovation inherent in an item and the ingenuity and hard work put into making it that way. Building on the work of others before them, people improve and add to inventions to make them stronger, more useful, more convenient, more intuitive, and more cost effective. It’s why we don’t wash dishes much any more, preferring to load them in an automatic dishwasher that will do the chore for us. It’s the difference between Henry Ford’s Model T and a McLaren 570S Coupe sports car. It’s the e-book you read on an e-reader, the difference between DVD and 4K Ultra HD. And countless other examples.

At a deeper level, technology is the work of our hands and minds as human beings, and, by extension, a reflection of the creativity of our maker. The book of Genesis tells us that humans are made “in the likeness of God.” Our ability to think and create, then, comes directly from God. Technology is a celebration of human (and divine) inspiration, collaboration, dedication, and ability. Technology and life are interwoven. As such, we should not be afraid of it. But we should put healthy boundaries between ourselves and “the material objects of our civilization” so as to safeguard our minds, our bodies, and our spirits. Otherwise our tools may start controlling us instead of the other way around! Tools are a means to an end, but we as humans must decide what those ends should be. If we let our tech make all the decisions for us, we may end up with ends we didn’t bargain for!

What technology do you appreciate in your life? Do you have healthy boundaries between you and the tech tools you use? Can you think of any area of your life where those boundaries could be strengthened? Share your thoughts in the comments below or send me a message using the contact form. I look forward to hearing from you!

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