30 (blogs) for (turning) 30: Day 10: But I Still Love Technology…

Posted: April 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

Yes, that is a quote from Napoleon Dynamite. No, I’m not sorry about it. And no, I don’t care if it bothers you. It’s late. We’ll move on to more important matters.

The reason I began that way is that I just got back from a very late screening of Johnny Depp’s new film Transcendence, although I technically went to see it because it is the directorial debut from Wally Pfister, the longtime Director of Photography for Christopher Nolan, a man whom I’m not afraid to admit that I harbor a great deal of respect and admiration for. So, in spite of a trailer that looked good but rather lukewarm reviews, I took to the cineplex for a 10:40 showing, mostly because I was bored and I had a free movie ticket. Can’t go wrong there.

I’m not really going to “review” the film here, I do want to get at the point that I think that Pfister and first-time screenwriter Jack Paglen are trying to make. The concept here is that technology could be a great asset to humanity, but that humans, in their not-so-infinite wisdom, will find a way to screw it up. We tend to take what could possibly be wonderful ideas and ruin them by our being humans. In the film, that particular technology is one that doesn’t, so far as I know, at present exist: the ability to place the consciousness of person into a computer and for that consciousness to then become salient and self-aware. This happens in the film, but it’s intended to be science-fiction; it also happens to serve as allegory.

I’m turning 30, but I barely remember a time anymore without the internet. I know I was alive before it existed for mass consumption, because I remember getting a Bondi Blue iMac for Christmas when I was in middle school and that we had AOL dial up, so we had to ask for permission to get online because it tied up the phone line. I remember that there wasn’t much to explore online at that point, so the majority of my time spent on the computer was spent typing out wild ideas in my head or playing off-line (gasp!) computer games. Yet in a relatively short time, the internet is now essentially everywhere. It has created in us a dependency on it in order to run our lives.

This may seem like an overreaction, and to an extent I’ll admit that it is, but I notice that my attention span has shortened, that I have developed a sort of phone-checking OCD, that I find human interaction harder now than I did before (which is saying a lot, since, as I’ve already said here, it wasn’t easy for me before all this technology existed). That being said, much like the film is trying to get at, technology still has its benefits. I never really have to worry about getting lost, for instance, like I almost did on my way back to the hotel tonight, because I have a constant connection to GPS-driven directions. I can connect with people that I might have otherwise lost complete contact with, even if those connections are essentially superficial, surface-level connections–they are still something.

All this to say: there certainly is danger in over-dependency on technology. I believe that we as humans are already starting to notice that, and that there are some that are taking the potential problem on before it reaches climactic, cinematic proportions. I do still love technology. I love that I can write this and then copy/paste some letters and numbers and symbols somewhere and anyone can read it. I love that I can see people I knew from years and years ago get married and have children and become better versions of themselves. I just hope that we never lose sight of the connections that really matter. So interact with the world as a whole; but maybe sometimes put away the world wide connecting tools and just look and see what’s right in front of you.

I know I could benefit from a little of that from time to time.

 

God bless,

Robert

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