12 Angry Men: The Technological Crutch

October 1, 2014 at 12:46 AM / by

When we think of persuasion in matters of proving our points do we always consider that our supporting evidence may be faulty? Do we consider that people may have ulterior motives? Is their always a seeming ambivalence to our lives that leaves judgment a thing only for the gods? In the court, these decisions cannot be left to the gods, they must be made by people, people like you and me and those in positions of authority and who practice law. One could say a healthy amount of self doubt can go a long way, but just as well, swinging with your gut in the face of opposition can also make a difference.

I recently viewed the film 12 Angry Men directed by Sidney Lumet, starring Henry Fonda. The film shows a single juror’s dissent, out of twelve, leading to  his fellow jurors developing a sense of reasonable doubt. The decision on trial is the execution of an eighteen year old boy.

What this film seems to exemplify very well is that the prejudice and anger that reside in common man, leads him, or her, to make judgments based on personal sentiments as opposed to reason and educated hypothesis. In other words, anger, in the film, seems to be examined as a thing that gives one power but in turn can render them blind to reason.

But what can a film like 12 Angry Men from 1957 relay to a modern audience?

Since the turn of the century, the technological advancements of various online outlets have made wide-scale opinion sharing a thing accessible to greater numbers than ever before, but has this in turn made the essential idea of a constructive debate more obsolete? We hear of terms like trolls and stories of people writing angry or hateful messages online bullying or slandering others. I remember the works of Plato and Aristotle driving toward a point that every new development in technology will have a duality. But how exactly is this technology, that is supposed to improve our communication, affecting it negatively?

Having recently listened to a radio broadcast on WBUR Boston NPR, I may have heard one fascinating side of this discussion. Nicholas Carr, a journalist and culture writer, spoke with host Tom Ashbrook about how the increase in technology seems to be reducing the development of human skillsets as well as human engagement. Callers phoned in illustrating various points on this issue explaining how technology aids but also hinders and sometimes even can be wrong or faulty for certain applications in various occupations and tasks. Counter arguments steered the discussion more towards highlighting the benefits of technological improvements in various industries and tasks. Nicholas went on to describe how engagement is a part of human necessity to happiness and fulfillment.

To connect this with something very recent, an app was just released called Good2Go. A phone app that determines sexual consent and the legality of one’s decision to have sex. An interesting article was written by Alyssa Bereznak on Yahoo illustrating the points that people would be unlikely to use the app and that sexual consent entails more than a contracted yes or no by phone. Alyssa went on to explain how the creator, a woman named Mrs. Allman, created the app in reaction to kids uncertainty about what to do in sexual situations and understood how technology has become an aid to kids in many facets of life.

In driving this all together I will say that technology has done amazing things for society and I will likely never flat-out denounce it’s importance, but I think (considering everything that has been brought into the limelight thusfar) that as much as technology pushes ahead communication, it also deters it by restricting and isolating it’s operators skillsets and engagement. As Nicholas said, I as well believe engagement is necessary to fulfillment and happiness. As great as many believe it would be to not have to work at all, you really have to ask yourself  if I had nothing to do, would I be happy? As Mr. Carr put it in other words, would not facilitating skills I have learned or acquired or utilizing myself to any capacity, be it art or occupation be in my, other’s, or society’s best interest?

Just as well, the choice to have sex is one that someone should have the informed conscience to make, it should never be made by a computer. If people are unable to make that decision properly it is up to them, their parents, and society to be more responsible for the environment that breeds their life experiences and education.

I feel I can now say the film 12 Angry Men does play a factor in this discussion, it says that we should examine the ulterior motives of companies making phone applications, it says we should examine the supporting evidence for why any piece of technology will aid us as well as what it will take away from us, it says that the decisions we need to make on the most human levels are ultimately up to us and if we deny that then, as Anthony Burgess put it, “When a man ceases to choose, he ceases to be a man.”





“Why Good2Go, an app for sexual consent, is a bad idea”/Alyssa Bereznak

“How to Avoid  A Fully Automated Future (Radio broadcast)”/Nicholas Carr and Tom Ashbrook


12 Angry Men (1957)/Sidney Lumet


A Clockwork Orange/ Anthony Burgess