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In Questions, Rachael Richardson explores the role of technology in the lives of human beings in the modern times. Richardson reveals how the internet has made it easier for people to obtain information about the various issues about humanity and the environment. One can virtually find every solution to the many questions that people ask on a daily basis on the internet. As such, she creates the impression that fellow human beings (such as friends and loved ones) may not be as important in life as internet technology in answering of the puzzles of life. However, on a deeper examination of her intentions, it can be inferred that Richardson aims at cautioning the audience that the internet cannot be the answer to all human needs. By skillfully employing poetic styles of irony, satire, apostrophe, and juxtaposition, Richardson propagates the idea that no amount of technological innovation can replace the value of humanity.
Richardson acknowledges that internet technology has played a crucial part in positively influencing the lives of people. The author gives illustrations of the solutions that the internet provides to people. For example, if one wants to prepare a certain type of food and has no idea about the procedure, they can quickly and conveniently access this information on the internet. Further, people can know the time zones for certain locations by searching through the Google maps. She says, "....but not as high as how to make pancakes, what time is it in California"(16-18). Provision of an instant menu for making pancakes is an important resource for people as the case of time zones for travelers. In any modern setting, having access to such resources is critical as it creates convenience in cooking and as makes travelers understand the various geographical realities of destinations to which they wish to travel respectively. By so doing, Richardson succeeds in juxtaposing the life of the past and the present. However, Richardson cautions such benefits are not all that matters in life.
Technology is meant to make our lives better but not necessarily the case with solutions provided by Google. The giant internet search engine, the author seems to suggest, aims at making huge profits through manipulation of the human mind. The online marketers for the company carefully select products that can fetch more profits by designing them in such a manner that creates the potential to attract more user traffic onto their sites. A majority of the product adverts represent emotive issues that run deep into the American society. To express her displeasure with the sole profit intentions of Google and other internet-related platforms, Richard wonders, "If there's one true thing, it's that Google will make money off us no matter what"(1-2). The author's choice of words reveals how she is disappointed with the intentions of internet-based companies. The narrator's disappointment has a lot to do with the intention to make profits by Google as opposed to providing helpful solutions to people in society. He adds:
"If we want to know
what percentage of America is white
(as it seems we do)
what percentage of the population is gay
(as it seems we do)"(3-5). The issues of racial identity and sexual orientation are sensitive topics in the United States. Regarding provision of real-life solutions, knowledge about the percentage of white and gay people in America may not be of any help in an overwhelming majority of circumstances. In singling out the population of gay and white persons in the US, perhaps the author wants the readers to question the benefits one can get by knowing the demographic details of the highlighted groups. These examples reveal how the internet is being used to stir emotions so long such tactics generate profits for the companies involved. This is ironical in the sense that such innovation was meant to make people happier in life yet it continues to cultivate animosity. Consequently, she promotes the theme of delusional technology.
The disappearance of the human experience in people's lives a result of technology is perhaps the biggest concern for the author. By employing apostrophe, the author reveals the emotional void left since the dead of her close friend. She reminisces, "So many things I wanted to ask you, now that you're gone, and your texts bounce back to me undeliverable"(17-20). The author's reference to the deceased friend informs the reader of the critical role of human-human relationships play in determining solutions to some of the difficult questions people encounter on a daily basis. In other words, the narrator emphasizes that the internet, with its magical search tools, cannot substitute the role of human relationships in people's lives no matter the number of search results it provides in response to the numerous questions people ask about life every single day. To underscore her position, Richardson satirizes the effectiveness of the internet in bringing happiness and satisfaction to people thus: "many have asked, apparently, where am I right now. Also when will I die"(12-13). From these phrases, it is clear that one cannot get an answer on the exact date of their death. Here, the author puts emphasis on how dependent human have become on technology up to an extent of believing that technology can answer all life questions. Moreover, the author sarcastically praises Google for the amount of results to the questions people ask about life. She proceeds:
the goddess of the internet search, who returns
with her basket of grain,
67,000 helpful suggestions
to everything we request"(20-24). The requests include questions about the age of earth and what one can do when bored. These are questions clearly Google cannot provide answers but people believe it is possible due to their overreliance in technology as opposed to their fellow human beings.
In conclusion, Richardson disapproves of the effects of technology especially in undermining the value of human relationships. In a careful choice of words meant to express the pain of losing a friend to death, the narrator seeks to inform the audience that internet technology has revolutionized people's lives in many positive ways. However, she cautions that it does not mean it can provide for the needs of the heart. The author particularly advises users that some of the solutions the internet offers are not accurate or do not offer any value except the generation of profits for internet companies. Overall, she underscores the value of human relationships and humanity in the context of modern technology.
Richardson, Rachael. "Questions." eyardley-hodges, 15 June 2018, www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/questions.
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