Amy, technology isnít intrinsically good or evil; itís how itís used. Like the Death Ray
In television, chiefly in shows aimed at kids, anyone getting a piece of shiny new consumer technology will do one of three things:
- Become obsessed with it, to the exclusion of everything else;
- Become dependent on it (and helpless when it breaks), or
- Become insufferable about it, until someone else gets an even cooler model.
What makes this often laughable is that between the lag times in producing TV episodes (especially animated children's edutainment shows
) and the lag time in writers discovering new trends and technology, the "cool new toy" is often quaintly dated
Compare New Media Are Evil
. When this technology is used by an entire society, it becomes Ludd Was Right
. When this trope motivates the bad guy, they're an Evil Luddite
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- Archie Comics has this as a standard plot where the characters get some new trendy tech and everything goes wrong with it with the characters' usual shticks until they ultimately reject it. If the tech in question stays around in real life for at least a decade, then it just becomes part of the background in the stories without comment. An example is the answering machine in the 1980s, which was the focus of a Veronica story which ends with her throwing it out and vowing to take all future calls personally, while now, that device is just a standard appliance all the characters have.
- The Brave Little Toaster has a literal example: The new appliances the Master has are basically living embodiments of the less than wholesome consumer culture of the 80's. They're also aversions-the whole reason why they tried to off the protagonists is that they were the prime candidates to go to college with the Master, rather then them.
- Santa Claus The Movie claims that mass production is the wrong way to make toys.
- The theme of numerous technology-themed Slasher Films, such as Chain Letter, Smiley, Vlog and The Den.
- In Transcendence, the head of the group cites the first brain uploading experiment which involved a monkey on why brain uploading is evil. "It just screamed." A monkey freaked out upon finding itself in a situation it could not possibly comprehend, so brain uploading is therefore evil because a monkey didn't like it.
- The premise of Aleksandr Mazin's Time for Change duology is that nature has finally had it with humans going into forbidden areas of science and has struck back with various natural disasters ranging from mass psychosis to giant tsunamis swallowing cities whole. The strange thing is, nobody knows what is causing these things, as the "forbidden" research that takes place at the time or right before the disaster usually has nothing to do with the actual disaster (the giant tidal wave that destroyed New York was, apparently, caused by an experiment at giving birth in space). The world governments have created the International Committee for Prevention of Illegal Scientific Research (or Aladdin, as it is known to most) to stop these disasters from occurring. They recruit military and scientific experts from all over the world and employ the best technology known to man to track down and eliminate any illegal research lab that may result in yet another disaster. Their methods are often brutal and efficient, and they eventually become strong enough to challenge even world governments like USA, the new Russian Empire, and China (they manage to take over Las Vegas in a matter of hours and cut it off from the rest of the country when one of their own is arrested for a crime he didn't commit). Strangely enough, much of the research that "nature" appears to especially hate deals with space or biotechnology, so space exploration was placed on indefinite hold. When the Chinese attempt to break the ban and launch a spacecraft to Mars, the entire nation (and any other Chinese speaker) was struck down with a form of aphasia. The main character's father even comments that it may be God punishing us from attempting to leave the place where He put us.
- There were quite a few childrens' books that operated on the "video games rot your brain and computers will eliminate books and social interactivity" angle. This one died in the mid-nineties once it became commonplace for games to have RPG Elements (read: a lot of reading and stat-tracking) and the Internet became too big to ignore, with Usenet, AIM, Facebook, etc. making people as social as ever.
- Kurt Vonnegut's The Euphio Question.
Live Action TV
- The Monkees episode "Monkees vs. Machine" is all about a Jerk Ass toy company executive who is in favor of firing all unnecessary humans and let computers design and run most everything. Mike is seen as having a genuis level IQ for confusing the computer that interviews potential employees.
- In the second season episode of Sliders, "Gillian of the Spirits", the protagonists are stuck on a world where the detonation of the atomic bomb scared everyone away from new technology, which is stuck in the 1950s. There is no television, digital hand watches, etc. And the Bureau of Anti-Technology was founded to keep any new technology from being accessed and to arrest those who either make it or possess it. Things are made worse by the fact that the dimensional timer is broken, and there are only basic hardware tools to fix it.
- Early in Stargate SG-1, the Air Force creates an alien/human hybrid craft (basically by bolting human weapons and control interfaces onto an alien fighter), which promptly hijacks itself and nearly kills the pilots by virtue of simply flying into space, out of range of every other craft they have. However, the moral isn't "New Technology Is Evil" so much as it is "Playing with a Black Box is a bad idea." Many later plots in the series involve alien tech that the humans have successfully dismantled and reverse-engineered.
- One Elementary episode had a killer print a gun and bullets using a 3D printer and then dispose of the gun in a way that made it look like milk. If the guy hadn't been lactose intolerant and his wife hadn't been a vegan and Sherlock hadn't noticed 'milk' in his fridge the guy probably would've gotten away with it.
- Video replay for officials tends to be strongly resisted by many major sports, despite broadcasters having had the technology for decades. The result of this is immediate evidence for a blown call by a referee... that doesn't count for anything at all. A particularly awful example? Armando Gallaraga's perfect game that wasn't. To add insult to injury, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig refused to reverse the call for the official records.
- FIFA is resistant to adding technologies such as replays for The Beautiful Game, insisting that the word of the referee is what should be accepted and human error is part of the game. But lately ref mistakes are getting so common FIFA relented on using chips that proved the ball entered the goal in the 2014 edition of The World Cup.
- FIA usually forbids any technology that enters Game Breaker (such as the ones in the early 90s Williams cars that made the cars basically drive themselves) after they are used for a few seasons, usually for balance as the lesser teams can't afford it and fairness to make the driver skill as important as the car's gizmos.
- NASCAR takes this Up to Eleven - fuel injection was banned in 1957 and the ban was not rescinded until 2012, long after carburetors had become obsolete for road cars. Pushrod engines and four-speed manual transmissions are still used.
- Some sects of the Adeptus Mechanicus Warhammer 40,000 believe this, but it's not universal.
- It's due to their belief that everything has already been made (which it is for many things) so it's better to just look for it, rather than waste time remaking it. Of course doesn't stop a tech priest from claiming they found something they've made.
- Standard Template Construct. QED.
- It's more of a belief that xenos technology is evil, because a) it was made by filthy xenos creatures and b) it hasn't got the blessing of the Omnissiah.
- In Sid Meiers Alpha Centauri, the quotes attached to many later tech advances and secret projects consist of Sister Miriam Godwinson railing against the new technology in question.
- Wakka from Final Fantasy X hates all the machina and Al Bhed technology as well, but it should be noted that it's far from new technology. Most of it is, in fact, very, very old.
- The Taikan forgemaster from Exterminatus Now believes all technology is evil (including indoor plumbing), except for the beam swords he creates. When the Mobian Inquisition shows up, they get to hear the forgemaster complaining about how all of the new tech is going to destroy their way of life. He's later proven partially right about this. The new recruit who set up the tech is working for a Dark God called the Machine, and the recruit manages to overwhelm the tech on-site, including Lothar's bionic limbs.
- South Park also has three examples: when the kids become obsessed with the Okama Gamesphere to the point of destroying an Ancient Conspiracy just to recover their Gamesphere, when Kenny plays his PSP to death and ends up using his game to command the Legions of Heaven, and when Cartman starts fooling around with space-time because he can't wait until the Nintendo Wii is launched. And there was Cartman's Trapper Keeper, which took over the world and had to be stopped via Time Travel. On the other hand, the trope is definitely not played seriously.
- There's also the time when the whole town gets hybrid cars and the resulting smug-storm nearly destroys the west coast of the US.
- Muppet Babies has the episode "The Great Muppet Cartoon Show". Scooter makes animation on his computer while Animal uses paint and keeps chanting "Messy!". Scooter gets trapped in a jail made of tron lines until he agrees with Animal. It's a broken aesop, since being messy was supposed to imply creativity, but Muppet Babies was a Clip Show (several movies clips, mostly Star Wars were used heavily throughout the series). It's a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment now that Lucasfilm has been sold to Disney who also owns Jim Henson studios and Pixar.
- Possibly the most literal example of this trope is in Thomas the Tank Engine. Steam engines are usually portrayed as good hearted and helpful, whereas diesel engines (new in the 1950s) are painted as cruel, arrogant, and determined to see all steam engines scrapped. However, some diesels have been depicted in a kinder light and some steam engines are not entirely nice.
- Likewise, the cutting edge appliances in the movie The Brave Little Toaster aren't very nice, to say the least (they were in fact a big Take That to the 80s consumer culture).
- Interestingly, the original book averted the trope - the new appliances weren't portrayed as any worse than the older models, and actually helped Toaster and the other old appliances.
- In an episode of Curious George George and his friend The Doorman go camping, making extensive use of The Doorman's fancy new GPS device. When it (inevitably) breaks, The Doorman is helpless to find their way home again.
- There for those who think that hand-scanning technology is the "mark of the beast" from the Book of Revelation. Some people even went so far as to suggest that barcodes on retail products were simply a trial version of the Mark.
- An Older Than Feudalism example: King Archidamus II of Sparta was appalled when the newfangled "catapult" was demonstrated to him, and bewailed the ruin of soldierly valor by such impersonal long-range killing machines.