Technology in Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

The message sent to young adults reading Uglies, touches on a topic that many teens struggle with, that of outer beauty. Technology is used in the novel to turn all citizens “pretty” at the age of 16. The main character uncovers the secret that when teenagers are operated on to transform from “ugly” to “pretty,” they not only lose their individuality, but also their ability to think for themselves. Most “pretties” become puppets of the state. Technology offers the teen a way to fit in with their peers, while robbing them of their own thoughts. This creates a fear of technology and an inability to escape its grasp. As a teacher, technology is presented in my classroom as something that my students control and use to express themselves in creative ways, not something that steals their thoughts or dominates their minds. Because of the many messages we receive through movies and the media, the future of technology can become intimidating, inferring that computers and artificial intelligence will take over our lives. This is the message the reader receives as a few evil, arrogant individuals use these resources to “better the world.” However, we should be cautious of the individuals using technology, and not fear technology, itself. Recognizing some of these messages that are being transmitted to young adults is something I, myself, need to keep in mind as I introduce new tech tools to my students. I need to emphasize the positives of technology and remind my students that they can master the tech tools, rather than being intimidated by them.

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