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New Technology Is Evil

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"Amy, technology isn't intrinsically good or evil; it's how it's used. Like the death ray."
Professor Farnsworth, Futurama, "That Darn Katz!"

In television, chiefly in shows aimed at kids, anyone getting a piece of shiny new consumer technology will do one of three things:

  1. Become obsessed with it, to the exclusion of everything else;
  2. Become dependent on it (and helpless when it breaks), or
  3. 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. See also Social Media Is Bad. If the technology has a screen on it and it's compared to the allegedly-superior books, see Books vs. Screens. Compare and contrast Digital Horror.


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    Comic Books 
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • Averted, in the All Guardsmen Party, against the standard beliefs of the Imperium. The party has started gathering and using Tau xenotech disguised with Imperial adornments as of The Greater Good. They've also tried and failed to steal from both the Eldar and the Necrons, both times being thwarted by an inability to understand the controls.
  • Captains Crash: One of the Wonderbolts judging the contest, High Winds, is quietly aghast when she sees Launchpad's Jenny in operation, noting that if he can scale this technology up to carry cargo, he could put pegasus couriers out of business, something she has particular feelings about since most of her family are in that business. She's openly relieved when Launchpad crashes, which the other Wonderbolts call her out on.

  • 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.
  • Explicitly defied in The Mitchells vs. the Machines (though the trailers would have you think otherwise). Rick's dislike of phones and computers has more to do with him being a Technologically Blind Elder who doesn't understand his kids' relationship with new technology as well as he thinks than it does with this trope, and in the end he at least tries to learn how to use YouTube so he can better support his daughter's goals. Additionally, part of PAL's motivation is how humans tend to fall back on blaming technology for everything bad rather than actually look at how they use it, and she denies the trope outright when Mark brings it up.
    Mark: I guess cell phones are bad for you. Heh heh, that's egg on my face!
    PAL: ...You think cell phones are the problem? Are you INSANE?! I gave you all boundless knowledge, endless tools for creativity, and allowed you to magically talk face-to-face with your loved ones anywhere on Earth! And I'm the bad guy?!
  • Santa Claus: The Movie claims that mass production is the wrong way to make toys.
  • The theme of numerous technology-themed Slasher Movies, such as Chain Letter (2010), 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.
  • Victoria has this as a central premise. Something went seriously wrong in American society between the 30s and 60s, and television probably had a lot to do with it, and cars that could easily make long trips to neighboring towns. So after country starts unraveling the heroes forsake advanced technology, except military hardware, medicine and computers to let them hack the enemy. Though it's also kind of inconsistent since they create cold fusion and Tesla-style wireless power transfer.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien was once recorded as saying that the most evil invention ever inflicted on man was the internal combustion engine. While he wasn't an outright Luddite, Tolkien did have a dislike of industrialization and mechanization. A lot of this had to do with his time serving in World War I, and seeing the first tanks and mechanized war machines. This comes across in The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings when he describes the war machines of Sauron and Morgoth, including one instance in the former work where the enemy employs what are clearly tanks!

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Monkees: "Monkees vs. Machine" is all about a Jerkass 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 genius level IQ for confusing the computer that interviews potential employees.
  • Sliders: In "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.
  • Stargate SG-1: Early in the series, 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.
  • Elementary: One episode has a killer print a gun and bullets using a 3D printer and then dispose of the gun in a way that makes 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.
  • 7th Heaven: This show took place during the end nineties/early '00s, right at the time the internet became booming and mobile phones became a serious thing. The family resisted for a long time to own or participate in any of this new technology. Eric was still using his infamous pager at a time most people had mobile phones. (Granted, the fact that the family were financially tight was also a factor). Eric did have a laptop from season 1 on, but it was implied that it was only strictly for ministry business use, and that it never had an internet connection.


    Newspaper Comics 
  • To hear Calvin's dad in Calvin and Hobbes talk, you would think any form of technology was the devil's magic. He refuses to buy a VCR, having already gotten fed up with TV and radio, and when Calvin asks him about the internet in one strip late in the comic's run, Dad responds that "it's bad enough we have a telephone!" He's presumably also the in-universe reason Calvin never had a video game system (the out-of-universe reason, of course, being Bill Watterson's dislike of video games).

  • 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 Association Football, 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: 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.

    Tabletop Games 
  • 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. The true irony of the latter is that it's a subversion of the first since the "Omnissiah" is actually a powerful alien, C'tan, whom the Emperor beat into submission to act as inspiration for the Adeptus Mechanicus. At least according to Horus Heresy.
  • Warhammer: Dwarfs are expert craftsmen and some of the most technologically advanced of all the races in the world, but they are also staunchly traditionalist. Any significant leap of innovation is automatically suspect and any new designs will need decades or even centuries of careful planning before even a prototype is developed, and then centuries more of tinkering and testing before the technology is sufficiently proven for others to adopt it.
    • Note that stubbornness being one of their defining traits, there are old dwarfs complaining about people using this newfangled gunpowder when there's perfectly fine crossbows around (and presumably there were dwarves complaining when those came into fashion).
    • Because their psyche prevents them from producing "umgak" (shoddy work), the shame and dishonour they feel if an unproven design causes the maiming or death of their fellow Dwarfs leads many adventurous young engineers to take the Oath of the Slayer.
    • One forward-thinking engineer actually deliberately puts a flaw into his machine-gun design so as to give the senior engineers something to complain about, letting him work out the real problems in peace.
  • Video games, action movies, and everything else new is this to every werebeast not in the Techno Wolves organization in Bleak World
  • Many of the Baramin (the bad guys) of Genius: The Transgression believe this. They're each defined by how and when they believe humanity's scientific and technological development took a wrong turn. Some of their beliefs aren't too crazy, for instance the Atomists are upset about the death of the space age dreams, but the Oracles are still complaining about Aristotle's Organon and want to bring back the good old ways espoused by Plato.


    Video Games 

    Web Comics 
  • 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.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • South Park: Played for Laughs in a number of episodes:
    • "Trapper Keeper" has Cartman bragging about his new Trapper Keeper to everyone around him, and it ends up taking over the world and has to be stopped via Time Travel.
    • In "Towelie", the kids become obsessed with their new Okama Gamesphere to the point of destroying an Ancient Conspiracy just to recover it when it gets stolen.
    • In "Best Friends Forever", Kenny plays his PSP to death and ends up using his game to command the Legions of Heaven.
    • In "Smug Alert", the whole town gets hybrid cars and the resulting smug-storm nearly destroys the west coast of the US. At the end, Kyle attempts to subvert this trope by pointing out that hybrid cars themselves are a good thing - that people simply need to learn to be environmentally conscious without developing a Holier Than Thou attitude. None of the people of South Park believe that they could handle that.
    • "Go God Go" features Cartman freezing himself because he can't wait until the Nintendo Wii is launched. Even when he is thawed out in the far future and caught up in a brutal war, he is still motivated exclusively by his desire for a Wii.
  • Muppet Babies (1984) 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).
  • Possibly the most literal example of this trope is in Thomas & Friends. 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.
  • 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.
  • The short, "Bear Necessities" from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Fairy Tales For the 90's" depicts the Looney Tunes incarnation of The Three Bears in a then-modern-day retelling of the Goldilocks story. While Pa likes the idea of modern houses and technology, Junior certainly thinks modern technology is evil and misses his old life living as a wild bear in the forest. It isn't hard to see why, since Junior tries to make friends with a computer, who in return, demands lunch money and fires floppy disks at him.
  • In the Rugrats (1991) episode, "Mommy's Little Assets", Famous Ethel and her husband, Abe are reluctant to sell their company to Merge Corp, as they don't trust newer technology. They want the memo Charlotte and Jonathan sent them rewritten by hand, since they don't trust computers, and when Jonathan shows them the company's fax letter, "Just the Fax", referencing a line from the television series, Dragnet, they tell him they think television is evil.

    Real Life 
  • There for those who think that hand-scanning technology is the "mark of the beast" from the Book of Revelation. Actually, since it's explicitly said in the book that one purpose of the mark is to control commerce, this has happened anytime a major purchasing control is introduced, from credit cards to smartphones, at one point it was thought the barcodes on products was a trial run for 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.
  • The movable type printing press was decried as evil by some (mostly the church and rich nobles) because, at the time, a formal education from hand-copied books was something only rich nobles could afford. And since nobles were seen as God's favored at the time, books being made widely available to the peasantry was seen as defying the will of God.
  • During the 1970s and 80s the anti-nuclear movement in the United States was at its peak due to incidents such as the Three Mile Island partial meltdown, with certain environmental groups decrying nuclear power to this day. Currently, radiation is humanity's cleanest energy source, and it's estimated for every one plant that was stopped by protests around that time 100 metric tons of CO2 was emitted instead. The only real reasons we're not powering every home with nuclear stations at the moment are the aforementioned public perception of the "dangers" of nuclear power, the high start-up costs for building reactors and the fact that nuclear fuels are finite, meaning that a society fully dependent on them would one day be screwed when supplies run out, just like with fossil fuels.
  • When 3D printers became widely available, a number of "think of the children!" types began worrying someone would 3D print guns. In fact, people have, but they have been rather unreliable and capable of only firing low-power cartridges. One of them, the Liberator, was based on the FP-45 Liberator Pistol but it was made out of plastic parts. People worried that criminals could now manufacture untraceable guns for cheap... except that it's made of even cheaper materials than the FP-45, fires a weaker cartridge (.380 ACP/9x17mm), and is still just a single-shot pistol incapable of holding its own in a realistic shootout against police (although it is ideal for attempting to bypass a metal detector and assassinate somebody). One Liberator actually shattered after firing exactly once. While a 3D-printed gun is still dangerous to anyone in its line of fire, there are multiple problems and dangers of the gun to its user that makes it impractical for criminal use. The biggest snag with the idea of using a 3D-printed gun for crime happens to be procurement of ammunition, which cannot be 3D-printed.
  • This is an Enforced Trope in summer camps, which ban modern technology such as cell phones and gaming devices, so that campers can focus on the activities and be more in-tune with the environment around them.
  • This trope is often what some modern people believe to be the norm of Amish society. In reality, while Amish folk may prefer not to rely on technology, they do not see it as being sinful, and in fact, may accept some modern conveniences, provided it A) does not overwhelm them, B) allows them to function to the necessary standards of modern society/commerce (not a lot of amish markets are going to be successful if they can't take credit cards) or C) it allows them to do something they had no way of doing before.
  • Renaldo Kuhler (1931-2013) self-described himself as "urban Amish", and never drove a car or used a computer. He only grudgingly traded his rotary phone for a more modern one later in life. This is reflected in his fictional country of Rocaterrania, whose people strongly prefer trains to cars.