All right-thinking individuals are now expected to take an active stand against casual racism, casual misogyny and casual homophobia. Quite right, we must always be vigilant against poisonous attitudes that have the tendency to creep into our nomenclature from time to time. In that spirit, I would like to encourage us all to be wary of luddism, that despite its bankrupt reasoning, sneaks up on us with surprising stealth.

Here, I am using the broad definition of luddism which describes opposition to technology and technological advancement in general, not just the movement in the early 1800s. The original luddite contingent fiercely opposed labour-saving devices, but we, in the developed economy, see the fruits of the industrialists’ innovations through the obvious benefits in not having to hand-build everything. Labour is now more productive thanks to machinery, and can be employed in other capacities where it could not before.

But in this little piece I am remarking upon a tendency in the counter-culture to denounce a variety of recent technological advancements, which sometimes rears its ugly head in conversation amongst normal people. Common throwaway lines such as ‘I’m too addicted to my phone’ and ‘the internet is a hell-hole’ may be appropriate reflections of our feelings as and when they occur, but we should be careful not to let them overshadow the real-life benefits these inventions bring to all of our lives.

Luddism has psychological bases in natural fear of the unknown. When something new arrives, it is entirely rational to apply scepticism to it. With many tasks our civilisation needs to be getting on with, we don’t want to be wasting our time with silly trinkets with pretentions of re-inventing the wheel. However, the luddites miss the point: once you have applied all the tests necessary on this new thing and it has passed with flying colours, you don’t reject it!

We needn’t assume that all new technology is good, but for every 99 amazing, ground-breaking, life-changing, society-improving things a technology does, the luddites focus on and blow up that one possible downside. For example, the blockchain technology that Bitcoin is based has widely been credited as having the potential to literally save the world. But all these naysayers can see is the fact that some people launder money and buy drugs with it. These people are obviously blind to the fact that we have been doing this with paper money for centuries, but I am mostly aghast at how they fail to weigh up the pros and cons properly. Come on: consider the implications of the fact that you won’t have to exchange currency ever again, and I’m sure you’ll agree that we can deal with money launderers as and when they pop up. There’s healthy scepticism and then there’s being dense.

Continuing with the theme of over-emphasising the downsides (if they are downsides at all), the widespread hatred, and I mean hatred, of the Amazon Corporation is downright mystifying. Let me get this straight: in this world there exists a company that can provide you with near-enough any product ever invented relatively inexpensively by delivering it straight to your door, that lets you sell anything you want to anyone in the world and that revolutionised and democratised the writing industry, and you’re complaining that they don’t let the government throw away as much of their money as you’d prefer? So what if Amazon avoids paying tax? Good for them, and us: that’s more resources being spent improving their service that makes our lives easier.

But most egregious is the poor treatment of the Internet as a whole by nearly every corner. The Internet is mean, and can cause addiction, the critics say (is it too cheap to point out that these people wouldn’t be read a tenth as much if the Internet had not been invented?). I would respond with the fact that meanness is not a modern concoction, and that it is not at all surprising that ‘the human world in cyber form’ might be addictive to some people.

By every objective measure, the Internet is one of the best human inventions of all time. How does one even begin to describe the civilisation-improving features of the web? Well, roughly put, the Internet is all human knowledge amassed, and cheaply accessibly by everyone. Let me repeat that so that it sinks in: it is all human knowledge (as much as we can get anyway), amassed, cheaply accessible, by everyone. I mean, wowzer.

I don’t know what it is, but something about the general lack of excitement about this bothers me. Perhaps if the internet arrived all-of-a-sudden, without warning, things would be different. Compare how lottery winners react to their sudden wealth with those who have earned it over a length of time. The latter is not usually overcome with ecstasy at their quality of life, probably because they were present at every stage of its development. This is how it is with the internet: its growth has been relatively fast but steady enough so it seems as if it has been around forever. Now it is inconceivable how anybody could have lived differently. Not constantly reminding ourselves of this makes us susceptible to petty worries that stifle risk-taking and innovation.

But I must temper my growling, as, despite the drawbacks of nit-picking whining, human dissatisfaction is the great catalyst for the growth of society. In conclusion, we should definitely not be complacent, but I think there is time in our lives for celebration of our achievements as a species.