I’ve just caught up with an interesting little opinion column from the Guardian a couple of days ago. I’m not familiar with Douglas Rushkoff, but he sounds like he has some interesting ideas.
In this column, he’s concerned about technology. He sees us sleepwalking en masse towards a disconnected culture driven by technology, craving a false sense of place in the world via social media filters and from being literally connected to the internet 24/7, and missing the crucial sense of true global experience from the early days of television etc. (You’re best to read the article itself in the link – it’s short and he can put it in words a lot better than I can).
Anyway, it’s an interesting thing to ponder and I’d like to know some Afterworder thoughts on this stuff. It’s a theme that has arisen on these boards before.
Me, I’m generally optimistic about this stuff. I feel as if every generation has its technological doomsayers, and its easy to get swept up into thinking we are living in the last days. But if you just look up and engage with the world and with people actually around you, you’ll find people are generally much the same. People still like a glass of wine, go to the football, listen to records, grow vegetables in their allotment, like country walks, swimming, jogging, laughing, the sound of birdsong and the view from the top of a nice hill. Life goes on, in other words.
And yet… We HAVE lost something, haven’t we? I think (and please bear with me here) it has a lot to do with touchscreens. Yes, touchscreens. Touchscreens are great, on the face of it, but I think we’ve lost tangibility. On just about every device we have now we prod and poke an immobile surface with no physical responsiveness. We seldom get the satisfying click of a button or the feel of a lever or knob. Generally speaking, we interact with flat, bright, attention-grabbing surfaces that fling subliminal (and not so subliminal) adverts at us and tailor content to massage our egos and legitimise our blinkered views.
I find more and more I crave buttons and knobs. I’m no luddite (I use Netflix and Sky Q, I have a Kindle) but I have a guitar, a record collection, an SLR camera and a far-from-smart phone with actual buttons on it.
So is technology these days a poisoned chalice or a force for democracy and enlightenment? (… he asks on an internet forum of virtual acquaintances…)