The Good Life and The Impact of Technology

First: What do you think humans need in order to live well? What does "the good life" mean to you? Second: How is technology impacting your ability to live well? What's one area of your life where technology is helping you live well? What's one area where you think it is impeding your ability to live well?

Meaning of the good life

In order to live well, humans need to know, understand and be guided by their purpose, values, and principles in life. Frankly, these are not things I consciously think about on any given day, but probably should. Taking inspiration from an ethics framework presentation by The Ethics Centre, Enlightened KnowledgeI think perhaps my purpose in life is to be the best version of myself, as well as to leave this world a better place than when I entered it. I believe this because one of the values I deeply cherish—along with family, liberty, privacy, and justice—is knowledge.

A good life to me means having the freedom and resources to pursue intellectual growth and stimulation, to have access to the tools and skills I need in order to navigate an increasingly complex life, filled with both great possibilities and uncertainties. Living well for me means being able to pursue higher education from one of the best institutions in the world, and having the opportunities to exercise the knowledge I have gained in order to have a positive impact in my life and in the lives of those around me.

How technology impacts my ability to live well

Technology has played, and indeed continues to play, a pivotal role in helping me fulfill my quest to attain the knowledge and experience I need in order to earn my college degree at Harvard University, and thus live a good life. Thanks to advancements in communications and video conferencing technologies, I am able to pursue my educational endeavor as a distance student from Houston. Technology enables me to remotely join a class and learn from professors at Harvard in Cambridge, while studying alongside fellow scholars from various locations around the world.

Paradoxically, the same type of technology that helps me connect and engage with others can sometimes be an impediment to my learning goals and pursuit to live well. The ubiquity of mobile devices and social media can cause unwelcome distraction. While distractions, per se, can occasionally be a welcome respite from the rigors of college learning, the perpetual interruption and information overload also often cause anxiety and great disturbance.

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One of the graded activities in my ethics course this summer was the Short Writing Exercise (SWE) in which we were prompted to reflect upon a recent reading, or answer questions regarding the latest topics we have covered in class. The responses to each SWE had a strict word limit, usually between 200 and 350 words. In total, we had seven SWEs during the 7-week summer program, and I have selected three of them to publish on my site, with permission from the instructor. The post above was in response to SWE2, submitted on 28 June 2022.