Destroying the Wall that Separates Technology

After reading through this week’s readings, I also want to quote on Ani Di Franco from Professor Irvine’s article: “A tool can be a weapon, if you hold it right.” Technology has taken the pulpit of today’s society and as it continues to bring about a revolution of the way humans interact with each other, sceptics and believers alike persevere to assess its overall impact. Let’s take a look at colleges nowadays, especially connectivity in college relationships – among technology’s many facets. There is a deep relevance of technology in establishing relationships but some may argue: is it enough to justify the morphed social culture that encourages virtual connectivity as compared to the physicality of actually “being there”? With COVID-19 still being a global pandemic, virtual connectivity seems like the only way and it also may pose a new question: is virtual connectivity the new norm for our future life?

Whether you say yes or no to this question, we cannot deny the fact that technology is now everywhere in our life and I mean everywhere; no one can say technology is in its isolated, separate form or domain because the result of the emerging technologies is not social isolation but social integration. Look at schools now – everyone is using Zoom as an online teaching platform, a mediation to connect with students, teachers and faculty from all over the world. It is not just about connecting, rather, it is about socializing too. And it is not just socializing, rather, it is techno-socializing. Like what Debray suggests, we need to overturn “the wall”. Today, it is odd for one not to have a Facebook or Instagram account. It’s almost a social imperative to have a profile set-up; from class groupings to collegiate or business events, this platform has become the go-to place to stay informed. But most notably, it dares mimic presence with constant texts and calls – it has become an avenue to “socialize”. It connects people from different walks of life, from different geographical locations. It makes it possible to find a childhood friend whom you haven’t seen in years. Some may even note the impact of this new age unit to their sexual lives – how it has become a tool for casual hook-ups. These social media apps have already merged themselves seamlessly into our everyday life and have become part of our modern human culture.

A few years ago, I read through some pieces from Robert Romanyshyn’s book: Technology as symptom and dream. And he argues that technology is not a bunch of linear events that happened or occurred over time in our history, rather, it is “the enactment of human imagination in the world” (pg. 10). Romanyshyn regards the study of technology as a psychological reality, as creation and most importantly, as the making of a cultural dream (pg. 10). There are millions, gazillions of life living on this planet yet we humans are the only species that are blessed with the gift of language. It is such a powerful and amazing system of communication that we are able of sharing the information with precision. This also distinguishes us from other species because we can learn the information and pass on from generation to generation – a history. Romanyshyn says that dreams speak the language of images and dreams are patterns and webs of interconnections with aesthetic values (pg.14). Technologies as dreams are about creations. We create with human achievement, with history and with discovery and it is those stimuli, hopes, dreams, fears, images and inspirations that shaped our cultural world.

 

References:

Regis Debray, “What is Mediology?”, from Le Monde Diplomatique, Aug., 1999. Trans. Martin Irvine.

Romanyshyn, R. D. (2006, originally published in 1989). Technology as symptom and dream.

Martin Irvine, “Understanding Media, Mediation, and Sociotechnical Systems: Developing a De-Blackboxing Method” [Conceptual and theoretical overview.]