People Don’t Kill People, Technology Kills People!
I just finished watching a fascinating FRONTLINE episode titled, Digital Nation, described on the show’s website as “an in-depth exploration of what it means to be human in a 21st century digital world.” My mind is still going in a million directions, totally captivated by this report on modern technology. I feel as though this very blog is an archaic form of communication – perhaps I should have webcammed my thoughts (is that a verb yet?) or even better, I probably should have created an avatar who could read this to you in a virtual reality.
Okay, but seriously…where the hell are we going? I mean, what’s going on? Am I going to have a sit-down with my grandchildren one day and explain what reading books was like? Sighh…
Truly, technology is a struggle for me. It’s a love/hate thing, I think. I love it, I embrace it, I spend the night with it. Then I push it away. I wake up in the morning and ask it to leave. Terrible and probably offensive metaphor. Sorry for that. What I’m doing right now is writing what I’m thinking. You should try it someday, if you haven’t before. And I’m procrastinating as well, because I just don’t know which side to weigh in on here. I really do value technology; it has so much to offer the world. Let me put it a different way: I would be dead if it were not for technology. I would be dead right now. Just rewind to my first few entries and you’ll know what I mean. Chemotherapy – a word that still tastes bad as I say (write) it – saved my life. Technological advances in medicine saved my life and I am eternally grateful for that. Score: Technology 1, Scientology 0
Technology also kills. It takes lives every day and it dehumanizes the very act of killing another person. The Predator is my point in case. Ever heard of it? I had, but this FRONTLINE episode made it real for me. Of course I need to use that term, real, very delicately. The Predator, aside from a great Arnold flick, is a type of UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. Remember that remote control airplane you always wanted when you were a kid? Just like that. Except this time imagine that you have an extra button that can launch missiles at people you don’t like. Score: Technology 1, Humanity -1
The Predator is technology’s answer to killing people, without those nasty side effects; nausea, guilt, self-doubt, sense of remorse, etc. The Predator is technology at its worst. Strike that. The Predator is humanity at its worst. I can barely imagine what it’s like to stand face-to-face with someone and murder them. To see in their eyes the same humanity that is in my own, and to take it away from them. I don’t think I could ever commit that act. I hope that I can’t. A gun would make it easier though, wouldn’t it? Allow me to take the opportunity to include Kevin Bacon in one of my metaphors: let’s say that gun, in relation to the act of killing someone, equals one degree of separation. How many degrees of separation does the Predator equal?
Just as easily as I can logon to facebook right now and poke someone, some kid I graduated high school with can sign-on to his military program and explode that same person.
It’s the only word I can think to say. The lines are so totally blurred and I’m so totally confused. The more we are able to separate ourselves from our actions, the less real they become; the less we understand how they affect other people. And yet, they are real. To that eighteen year old kid in Afghanistan who just lost his limbs because an eighteen year old kid in America pushed a button, those actions are very fucking real.
Is it possible for technology to align itself with humanity? I think so. I hope so. But it certainly is not as easy as humanity aligning itself with technology. Is technology just another force that can be used for good or evil? I suppose so. But something tells me technology needs a far more complicated paradigm to be fully understood. And I have no idea what that paradigm is.