February 3rd, 2019
For regular readers of this blog (both of them) it should come as no surprise that I am no fan of modern technology. Over the last ten years, my opinion concerning such aspects of daily life (for many people) as the smartphone, social networks, and increasing algorithmic intervention has morphed from an initial enthusiasm and utter fascination, transitioning through a stage of increasing skepticism as to their merits, and finally now resting on a solid crystallization marked by utter hostility. Even before the idea was cool - which makes me a hipster of sorts - I had deleted my Facebook account and had never bothered to deal with the various other ephemera of the online social existence which seems to now have such a vice grip on the social glottis. It is absolutely clear to me that the technological revolution which has taken root since the middle of the first decade of this millennium has, on balance, been utterly poisonous to both society and to the humanity of individuals. On a social level it has caused massive mayhem in both the western and the eastern worlds by accentuating the worst tendencies of a human being. His propensity to believe in bullshit when it is soothing to him, his pathetic inclination to root for his tribe no matter how ridiculous it may be, and his infinite capacity to rain wrath on the members of tribes he does not agree with. On a human level, the effects of technology have also been disastrous as they have reduced what should have been reasonably functioning human beings to slavish automatons continuously glued to their screens, always plugged in to the world of infinite facts but little understanding. I think that it is a legitimate question to ask that the person you see walking on the sidewalk, his eyes on his smartphone as he absentmindedly maneuvers the perils of city traffic, or the one you see sitting at a restaurant table lost in the virtual world as her real life friends sit by doing the same, is actually human. Or is he/she a member of some new species of sub-humans which has risen out of this technological revolution? A queer specimen who on the face of it seems to have lost the ability of self-reflection and who seems to engage with human emotions purely in cliches. He/she probably can still feel pain but having lost the ability to think about it in a coherent manner responds to it in highly templated ways. In the absence of self-reflection (and how could they self-reflect as self-reflection takes time and an openness to boredom) it appears that life to them must be a bit like how it is to lower creatures. A set of essentially unconnected stimuli the canned responses to which are readily accessible in the interwebs. The entire structure of the web then is the opium which drugs these individuals into a kind of stupor which characterizes the unthinking, unexamined lives of lesser animals than humans.
Do I feel superior in this situation? Do I feel that I took the right steps at the right time and that it has worked well for me? You bet I do.