|Surviving Human Nature|
Wired, Wireless and Alienated?
All human affairs proceed in a dialectical fashion with progression and regression in constant play. Good and bad results emerge from every innovation. As the media world becomes more complex and more demanding, a high tech citizen runs the risk of becoming unhappy and confused. We know that better access to procedures and information is a decisive advantage for people who can use the information. In the early days of the www, there was discussion of the "emergence of a global brain paradigm for modeling the world." However, humans have a limited ability to embrace other humans and are quickly over-loaded by information that is not immediately relevant. Smart phones replace the really real with a virtual artifact that distracts and deceives. Some smart people are happy to leave the cell phones in a drawer and leave the hectic lives for a nature retreat. They value the natural world and celebrate opportunities to reconnect with their “inner self” and nature. Carl Jung suggested: “Too much man makes a sick animal. Too much animal makes a sick man.”
Humans have long lived in small groups and travelled to join assemblies of other groups. These gatherings have become highly organized affairs with formal presentations and social interactions. Real meetings have important features that virtual interactions such as email, text messages, chat rooms and social networks lack. Humans rely on seeing facial expressions, body language and observing the coordination of speech with gestures. Without access to a real person, the information is always incomplete. The frequency of rude and angry emails and comments posted on bulletins boards are problems with virtual communications. Internet etiquette has emerged to reduce angry responses. A smart communicator will delay a response to an irritating message and will consider how to reply in a diplomatic manner. Internet users worry about loss of privacy, but the real danger is that a sicker animal may emerge who is comfortable in virtual reality but disoriented and destructive in the real world.
The cell phone has evolved into a handheld personal computer that is changing the nature of communications and data networks worldwide. The cell phone offers undeniable advantages in the developing world, providing communication links that never existed before. In Africa, for example, cell phones are often the only way for people to communicate. Copper wire or fiber optic links may never be installed in the poorer regions of the world. In affluent countries smart phones have some benefits but increasingly possess thier users, distracting them from the real world and the value of live, face to face human interactions.
The business leaders of the information age are highly competitive and believe that they are in a race. The race has only to do with business competition and profits not the well-being of their obedient customers. The world would be a better place if everyone slowed down and made more gradual transitions from one state to another. There is no race. There is nowhere to go. We are already here. Who is fooling whom?
There are potential benefits. There are some hazards. Most internet users will have limited ability to understand how to find the best information and will default to slogans and seek free entertainment. Social networking sites are popular because they are free and entertaining. The Face Book idea is that you can advertise yourself, acquire friends and become a friend of many others. The real effect is that the meaning of friend is deflated. Real friends are rare and need to be cherished. Virtual friend are not friends at all. There is a possibility that meaningful relationships can develop after online contact, but this is not probable. There is a risk that your personal information may be used against you.
People need to worry about loss of privacy, manipulation and control of their minds. A hidden danger is that a sick human may emerge who is comfortable in virtual reality but disoriented and destructive in the real world. Nice people watching TV in their living room are already more comfortable in the virtual world of television programming and are often confused about what is really going on out there. Humans with smartphones are living in a strange virtual reality that captures them like prisoners who are no longer free.