Technology, ECE, and Society.

Before you nerds get excited, this is by no means an extensive intellectual discussion or critique. Just thoughts.

Why am I in ECE?

I think I “chose” ECE simply because I am really interested in technology; knowing how it works and like many other people, getting and using it. I say “chose” because my decision to do ECE was influenced a lot by my parents. Anyhow, I’m not too bitter about studying it. ECE is very difficult, so when I understand stuff, it makes me feel accomplished and smart, although the process is often frustrating and painful. Besides that, I don’t really know why I’m in ECE. I’m in engineering because math and science were always my strongest subjects. ECE? Circuits are definitely not one of my strong points. Regardless, the technology/application is exciting. But there are some things about technology that sadden me a little as well (those of you who have read my blog since the beginning probably know that already).

The “Society” part of this post

So thank God I’m on fall break now. This week was so busy, thanks to 315 lab. Anyways, I got on the bus to New York City and was waiting for it to fill up and get going. I had my stuff all placed in the overhead compartment and was all settled in. These two girls then come up to me and ask if I could move to the seat behind me next to some other guy, because they understandably want to sit next to each other. I was fine with that so I said ok.

Thanks to the Korean people sitting around me, I couldn’t sleep, so I ended up just staring out the window and at the people in front of me. The two girls who asked me to move did not say a word to each other until towards the very end of the bus ride. One was watching movies on her laptop (might I add asian movies that looked sort of corny), and the other was playing Nintendo DS.

Ok first of all, I find it weird when girls are really into playing video games, especially something like a portable video game console like gameboy or DS. They just look dorky. I mean come on, who plays MarioKart by themselves (which is what this girl was playing)?

Second of all, even though I didn’t mind moving my seat for them to sit together, I was still thinking: “Why the heck do you two need to sit next to each other if all you’re going to do is look at a screen? Now if they were watching a movie together, that’s different because at least they’re doing something together. But asking me to move so that you could both sit next to each other but one of you can watch a movie and the other can play DS? Did you really have to ask me to move?

My biggest “complaint” against technology is that it seems to have made people less social and active. I do realize that many technological applications promote interaction and communication among people, but in terms of consumer products, I think technology has done more to make people antisocial than it has to make them interact with each other. For example, when I was a kid, in my free time I would play outside. I would spend hours shooting hoops or riding my bike with my brother. But now? Now I spend hours sitting in front of my computer, and so does my brother. I imagine kids these days spend a lot less time playing outside now that they have fast internet access and big TV’s. That makes me sad.

My dad

One of the things that I admire about my dad is that he’s really smart, innovative, and a seasoned electrical engineer, but he is definitely NOT obsessed with the newest technology or materialistic in regards to consumer products employing cool technologies. He lives in an apartment in Taiwan with no TV and a desktop with no speakers and less than 256 MB of RAM. His source of music is a small single CD-changer/tape deck boombox. Yet, he has a PhD in electrical engineering and works/leads research in cutting edge technological areas such as MRAM and secure flash memory.

In some sense I’m the total opposite. As I said before, I am in ECE because I enjoy the technology. I am definitely materialistic in terms of consumer products (I’ve gone through four mp3 players). I like using the computer. My dad is so un-materialistic that he’s borderline computer illiterate. (By the way, if you’re wondering how that’s possible, let it be known that being an electrical engineer, or an engineer in general, has almost nothing to do with knowing how to use a computer. But that’s another topic altogether.). Anyways, I think it’s admirable how my dad can be so involved with technology but not be obsessed with it.

Maybe I’m in ECE for the wrong reason…

Our Determination

It’s been two months since the start of the past NYTS in July. I made a number of resolutions/determinations upon the conclusion of NYTS. I wrote them all down on a list and taped it to my wall. But where do I stand today, after these two months? Do I still have the conviction that drove me to make these resolutions? Do I still believe the rationale and purpose behind each specific one? Do I follow them?

Thank God that so far I have kept a number of them, that he has given me strength and taken away my desire for certain things. But for others, because of the influence on me from the world, I question my motivation behind them. There are some that I have not followed, either out of laziness and/or lack of self control. I can hear God’s message to some of the churches in Revelation being directed towards me: “Nevertheless, I have a few things against you.” (Revelation 2:4,14,20).

Maybe others who came out of NYTS are feeling the same way. Maybe we don’t feel the fervent heart that we had two months ago. But let us remember what Jesus said: “In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day…” (Lk 13:33). Before coming to the world, Jesus made the decision to sacrifice himself for us. He knew what he would have to suffer. While on earth, he did not shy away from the persecution. He never questioned his motivation behind his decision. His determination was unwavering; “In any case, I must keep going.”

Jesus’ determination never changes, but what about ours? Do we get rid of the sin in our lives, only to let it creep back later on? Do we still have a heart devoted to pleasing God, or have we redirected its focus back on ourselves?

Let us reflect back on what we learned from the Bible. Let us ponder upon the reasons we made resolutions for ourselves, why we felt compelled to make them even though we knew it would be difficult. And let us shake off all the worldly influence that has skewed our resolve. If we have begun to question our resolutions, let us dispel our doubt by meditating on the truth that lead to our decisions. And if we have begun to make excuses or compromises, let us remind ourselves of the determination we made to God: “In any case, I will keep going today and tomorrow and the next day.”

Otherwise God can only look down and proclaim in deep sorrow, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”