Posted by GIRL'S GONE CHILD | Thursday, September 14, 2006
I'm going to try to blog about technology but it's kind of like trying to write about death. So many questions. So much empty space full of fear of the unknown. Infinite space and words and questions. We'll see how it goes...
It's just that as of late it's been on mind. I have always been deathly afraid of technology. It's speed. Our dependence. It's lack of imagination. It's coldness. It's God-like presence in life. And that is before I even get to thinking about it in relationship to Archer. Archer's future. Growing up in a time when the only time paper is touched is when transferred from ream to printer and pictures are drawn with mousepads and screens and instead of a journal by the bedside there is a laptop. A palm pilot. A Blackberry. When books are replaced with Cliffs Notes and the movie
When there is no need to be involved in the act of creation. An expensive camera and everything is beautiful. An expensive program and you can write and record your own songs, even if you cannot play an instrument, even if you have a terrible voice. It can all be repaired with effects.
Anna Karenina took Tolstoy seventeen drafts. And he did them all by hand. I cannot even fathom the possibility. It is like saying Tolstoy grew wings and flew to the moon. Is there a place for Tolstoy today? If he existed would the computer change him? Would it be far too easy? Would he lose his imagination? Become distracted by Dostoevsky's Blog? By the latest Russian street gossip? Or would he have written Anna Karenininininina, an even greater manuscript because of a greater technology? Why do I think not? Why?
Have we dumbed the world down by making everything so accessible?
Why has technology lowered our standards? Why has mediocrity take over where creative genius once was rampant? And what will happen as time goes on? What will happen to our children? Will talent become obsolete? Have we moved forward so fast there is nowhere left to go?
Video killed the radio star and computer killed the imagination. Or has it just created something better? Why imagine when you can flip a switch, when the computer can build a fantasyworld for you. Just click here and sign here. Do you prefer blondes to brunettes? Fame to fortune?
I am quite obviously a hypocrite. I prefer manual to digital photography and yet seldom take photos the "old-fashioned" way. I haven't printed my own photos in five years. I simply point, shoot, upload. I used to write in my journal, edit drafts by hand and write short stories in my moleskin. Now, I can type 300 words a minute and do so, never so much as scribbling by hand except for when I'm away from home. Away from my computer. I frown upon internet relationships for killing the humanness of flesh and blood contact and yet some of my closest friends are people I have never met in person.
Bigger, better, faster, more, more, more. Short and sweet. No attention span. Have a problem? Drug it. Lonely? Chat on the web. Have sex on the web? Shop for a husband on the web.
Does the computer push us foreword because it's fast? Because it makes it so much easier, so much more efficient as writers and parents and people? Or does it make us lazy? Does it keep us inside for days on end, make it possible for us to buy even our groceries with a click of a mouse, express our feelings and emotions and thoughts without so much as opening our mouths, picking up a piece of paper, sharpening a pencil. Meanwhile our children have mastered the art of Madden Football but refuse to go outside to play sports.
When the computer crashes we do not understand. When our phone lose signal we curse. "This stupid thing!" and when our car dies we cannot believe our luck. We are dependent on wires and switches and chips. We depend on machines. Machines are better than people. Machines will not argue. They will not offend us. They will not break our hearts. Ah, yes but they will. They too are not perfect but they're pretty damn close.
Dependency. It is my dependency on my computer that has made me into a person who expects too much out of everything and everyone. Won't Archer be the same? How can I keep this from happening when I cannot keep myself from high expectations, from wanting more?
And yet, if technology has enabled us so much more out of life why do I look around and see very little of substance. Where is the modern day Tolstoy and what have we done with the imaginary friend. We drug our children so they can sit quietly in school and listen. We become depressed because no one can fulfill us like Grand Theft Auto and Fantasy Sports. Fantasy, yes. Everything is a fantasy now, a virtual fantasy. No need for an imagination. No need for a brain.
...Because no one will ever be as beautiful as fantasygirl69 on aim. No one will ever be as good a friend as our Blogging BFF's. No one will ever look as good naked as the airbrushed chick on the cover of Maxim. No one will ever be good enough. No one will ever be faster than our computer, a better chess player, a more fulfilling thing.
As many of you know, I chat with children online for work. Many of whom are bedridden, terminally ill, handicapped. Again, I will admit to my hypocrisy. The organization for which I work is wonderful and allows children the online playground they need to interact with other kids like themselves and feel "normal." Some of these kids are online all day and for them, having a place online to interact with their peers all over the country is a blessing and a life-saver. Many of these kids have never had a friend outside of the computer and I can empathize but there are healthy children out there who do the same? Healthy children with legs and working lungs and a brain that isn't riddled with tumors. Children gaining weight, becoming lazy, becoming empty, dead. Color inside the lines. You don't even need a crayon. Crayon? It's this cool tool used to make color. Do what you're told. Follow directions. Memorize the facts. Be the next Bill Gates. Technology is power. Hurry up. Too much competition. Whatever it takes. Do your research. Keep up, don't slow down or you will die. You will be trampled by computerized legs and you will D.I.E.
Even as we "move forward" I feel like we are holding our children back. Even as we push them to skip grades and excel and be the very best they can be we are robbing them of experience, of soul and of imagination and the joy and sadness of human emotion. On the internet our children can experience the world! They can meet friends and play games and travel to the ends of the earth all alone. Alone. And where are we? Blogging? Researching schools? Reading parent advice and checking our emails?
I start to think about the future and I panic. I've never been afraid of much, on the contrary. I do not fear death. I do not fear bad guys or disease or spiders or anything of the sort. I do fear the machine. I fear that Archer will grow up competing against fact and speed, that he will be even more dependent than I am on computers and cell phones and gadgets. I fear most of all that all of the beauty in life will be sucked out of the moment and packaged on a DVD.
I'm afraid that I will wake up with a computer monitor for a face looking into the dark moniter faces of my children who walk the house with wires for ears and control panels for hands. I'm afraid we will have found a way to be jolly and perfect and numb and we will live happily ever after in an utopia of gadgets and buttons and access to everything, the whole wild world, twisting and bending under the fluorescent light like National Geographic holograms.