What we have been accessing in class this half of the semester has had much to do with the down-spiraling of human society because of technology. The juncture at which technology meets humanity is one of compromise. A comprise by which humanity is the price to pay for a feasible, more orderly lifestyle. To mitigate the discomfort of human intercourse, we substitute face time conversations with virtual ones, or in many instances (as observed in in-class texts) we utilize cyberspace appliances to run our everyday knowledge transactions. In the past weeks we have discussed and perused novels and blogs, as well as, databases and have accessed their harmfulness to us.
In the Feed, M.T. Anderson shows us the dangers of technology through the character of Titus; the character of Titus warns us about how complacent and ejected from our basic selves technology makes people. After losing the one he loved (Violet) he learns that the love for one another is more important than the “Feed”. The lesson of suggests that we must not be marked by self-satisfaction especially when it is accompanied by unawareness of actual dangers or deficiencies; there is much more in life to live for as people. The universality of the lesson not only applies to Titus, but extends beyond the boundaries of the “Feed” to admonish today’s society. The parallel between the “Feed” story and today’s society is so powerful that ignoring it will be detrimental to self. In the book “Feed” the masses have computer chips inserted inside their brains (making their life decisions). Similarly, our society today is grotesquely dependent on technology. With the pace of advancements in social media technology, as well as, digital communication devices we slowly forgo the propriety that is our ability to think for ourselves. Just like in the “Feed” we now leave decisions both trivial and life-changing to tools like Siri*–an apple application that works as an ‘informative and suggestive engine’. With the frequency at which we use laptops, smartphones, Facebook, and e-mail it is not impossible to see that one day we may have computer chips inserted inside our heads. As time passes the fictional plotline of “Feed” could be our reality. The “Feed” then becomes a thematic representation of how we are surrounded by so much technology that we ignore the finer things in life, like family and friends. It alludes to our natural knack to be led or have our lives facilitated by a medium or by another force beside ourselves. This has been true in much of the literature we have looked at this semester. For instance, in “The Machine Stops”, the dystopian future describes a world in which almost all humans have lost the ability to fend for themselves. As a result they create around them artificial dependencies like a machine that facilitates and makes up for their shortcomings as human beings. So now they have created an environment whereby they are driven by the functionality of such a machine. So that if ‘The machine’ was to have a shortage and becomes incapable of doing [mundane task] then they are left complacent, or indisposed towards such a task. The idea of dependency on technology of an object thing is almost dehumanizing.
As we have seen in “Feed”, “The machine stops” as well as in “the library of babel” humanity and the mind has been enslaved by a proliferating culture of short-cuts, and human indecision that has been brought on by technology dependency. An excerpt from “the library of babel” alludes to the built in cluelessness that comes with humanity, and the emptiness that fails us when we need to follow instinct, as well as when we need to depend on each other rather than on object things:
“When it was announced that the library contained all the books, the first reaction was unbounded joy. All men felt themselves the possessors of an intact secret treasure. There was no personal problem, no world problem, whose eloquent solution did not exist—somewhere in some hexagon. The universe was justified; the universe suddenly became congruent with the unlimited width and breadth of humankind’s hope. At that period there was much talk of The Vindications—books of apologies and prophecies that would vindicate for all time the actions of every person in the universe and that held wondrous arcana for men’s futures. Thousands of greedy individuals abandoned their sweet native hexagons and rushed downstairs…but those who went in quest of them failed to recall that the chance of a man’s finding his own vindication, or some perfidious version of his own, can be calculated to be zero”
In “the Library of babel” Jorge Borges suggests that we are directionless persons constantly in search of purpose to drive us. We always subdue our existence to a decider; leaders who will draft out of lives and vindicate us. Someone or something that can be in control of us is what the people living in hexagons sought after most of their lives. When the people heard that the library contained their answers they became dependent on finding such an answer, making the library their mechanism for survival. When the virus infected the survival mechanism of Titus and his friend’s they were displaced and directionless. By the same token when “the Machine” being the engine that facilitated life in a dystopian future stopped, humanity was dismayed. In all of these, there has been a resounding cry against the dependency on technology.
Technology and humanity works in such a way that the very nature of their coexistence accelerates the social lives of this generation. People are now able to communicate at a pace that is rapidly creating disconnect between humans on this planet, especially within the youth. The ability to be in constant communication with your peers as early as age 12 (within the best situation) cripples society’s personal connection with one another. Virtual modes of communication through phones, tablets, computers, etcetera, have little to no emotion behind them and can be inexplicably misinterpreted by the recipient whether it be through race, relationships, or opinionated conversations. An underlying theme of “the library of babel” was perception and the duplicity of understanding on one subject thing, and such a theme is not so far from the duplicity of functions we ascribe to our social media and our smart-devices.
Technology plays a double role in society. It quickens the understanding process but in a way that destroys the foundation of communication established by personal conversations. It has in some ways taken the god role of delegating and regulating our lives, just like in the “Feed”, “Neuromancer” and “The Machine Stops”. And at this level of dependency, much sooner than later, ‘everything will go’.