Has the gift of broadened technology begun to narrow us?
It sounds almost apocalyptic, but as I read an article in The Atlantic titled “What Tinder and Halo Have in Common,” I began reflecting on the dark sides of the modern convenience of being spoon-fed our shopping, news and entertainment choices.
The article explores the surprising similarities between the complex algorithms used by Halo to match a video game player with an online opponent and those used by Tinder to pair a person with a potential date.
The author of the article, Michelle Ehrhardt, voices a distinct wariness to a mechanism used to match individuals based on culled data. But while she questions the overall effectiveness of such a process, the article is suggestive of a potentially larger issue.
St. John Paul II, in Evangelium Vitae, vehemently asserts the “value and dignity of every individual as a human being, without any distinction of race, nationality, religion, political opinion or social class.” We could add physical appearance, salary and intelligence. Yet by using technology to limit individuals we are exposed to through the ranking of superficial qualities, we can start to undermine the inestimable value and dignity of every single human being. It can impress upon our culture the view that some individuals are simply “worth” more than others.
It becomes a subtle way of reducing complex human beings — complete with gifts, dreams, abilities, histories, flaws and a unique vocation of love — into a composite of favorable (or not-so-favorable) characteristics. With such a mind-set, whether it’s in dating, forming friendships or interacting in our communities, we begin to see individuals as little more than elaborate products — an amalgam of positive or negative traits — as opposed to seeing them as whole persons created in God’s image.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with dating sites. They are technological gifts that can allow someone to meet another person who shares similar interests, values and desires whom they wouldn’t have met otherwise. There is also nothing necessarily wrong with praising and seeking certain good qualities in others, especially in the case of finding someone to marry.
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