Technology: Voluntary or Mandatory?

Is tech really making our lives easier?

  1. All technology is at first, purely voluntary.

Accessible to early adopters.

  1. But as society, behaviors, and attitudes are further built upon and shaped by that technology, it eventually becomes mandatory
    1. Cars 
      1. Before: you walked, rode a horse/buggy
      2. Early stage: Few cars, still voluntary
      3. Mature Stage: Roads built, sprawling cities are built, highways connect them,
        1. You can no longer walk freely – there are roads, garages and parking spaces for you to navigate, you must walk within crosswalks or along sidewalks. 
        2. You need a car to travel. If you do not have a car, you take public transportation, and have even less freedom: you must appear when the bus arrives, go on the route it takes you, when it is in service.
    2. Internet: 
      1. Before: you did most everything in person (applying for jobs, shopping, meeting with friends, going to the movies, booking a vacation with a travel agent, or going to an adult bookstore), through the mail (paying bills, keeping in touch with old friends or pen pals), or over the telephone (ordering a pizza, getting a dinner reservation, gossiping about someone)
      2. Mature stage: Everything is done online
        1. There are no paper applications, every job is usually found and applied for online
        2. All shopping is done online
        3. All of our movies are watched on Netflix and other streaming services
        4. Travel agents don’t exist anymore
        5. Pron is freely, instantly (and somewhat discreetly) accessible online.
        6. All bills are paid online, almost all food is ordered and delivered with the help of a website or mobile app, and Kiwifarms exists.

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  • Once these technologies have been widely adopted and integrated, you can no longer operate in the old world:
  • Stores you used to shop at, movie theaters you used to watch movies at, and adult bookstores you used to do whatever at, all go out of business.
  • Radio stations switch to Spanish or evangelical christian content,
  • and nobody congregates outside anymore because everyone else is inside and online.

Social Media is the same,

Now most employers and even landlords want to see your facebook or instagram in order to even entertain the idea of hiring or housing you.

 

Technology marches ever forward, relieving us of past freedoms as it dictates the course, shape and frequency of human interactions.

127:  When a new item of technology is introduced as an option that an individual can accept or not as he chooses, it does not necessarily REMAIN optional. In many cases the new technology changes society in such a way that people eventually find themselves FORCED to use it.)

128. While technological progress AS A WHOLE continually narrows our sphere of freedom, each new technical advance CONSIDERED BY ITSELF appears to be desirable. Electricity, indoor plumbing, rapid long-distance communications… how could one argue against any of these things, or against any other of the innumerable technical advances that have made modern society? It would have been absurd to resist the introduction of the telephone, for example. It offered many advantages and no disadvantages.

Yet, as we explained in paragraphs 59-76, all these technical advances taken together have created a world in which the average man’s fate is no longer in his own hands or in the hands of his neighbors and friends, but in those of politicians, corporation executives and remote, anonymous technicians and bureaucrats whom he as an individual has no power to influence.  The same process will continue in the future.

Take genetic engineering, for example. Few people will resist the introduction of a genetic technique that eliminates a hereditary disease. It does no apparent harm and prevents.much suffering. Yet a large number of genetic improvements taken together will make the human being into an engineered product rather than a free creation of chance (or of God, or whatever, depending on your religious beliefs).

Instead of “us using technology,” is it more accurate to say “technology uses us”?

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119. The system does not and cannot exist to satisfy human needs. Instead, it is human behavior that has to be modified to fit the needs of the system.

This has nothing to do with the political or social ideology that may pretend to guide the technological system. It is not the fault of capitalism and it is not the fault of socialism. It is the fault of technology, because the system is guided not by ideology but by technical necessity.

Of course the system does satisfy many human needs, but generally speaking it does this only to the extent that it is to the advantage of the system to do it. It is the needs of the system that are paramount, not those of the human being. For example, the system provides people with food because the system couldn’t function if everyone starved; it attends to people’s psychological needs whenever it can CONVENIENTLY do so, because it couldn’t function if too many people became depressed or rebellious.

But the system, for good, solid, practical reasons, must exert constant pressure on people to mold their behavior to the needs of the system. Too much waste accumulating? The government, the media, the educational system, environmentalists, everyone inundates us with a mass of propaganda about recycling. Need more technical personnel? A chorus of voices exhorts kids to study science. No one stops to ask whether it is inhumane to force adolescents to spend the bulk of their time studying subjects most of them hate. When skilled workers are put out of a job by technical advances and have to undergo “retraining,” no one asks whether it is humiliating for them to be pushed around in this way.

It is simply taken for granted that everyone must bow to technical necessity, and for good reason: If human needs were put before technical necessity there would be economic problems, unemployment, shortages or worse.

The concept of “mental health” in our society is defined largely by the extent to which an individual behaves in accord with the needs of the system and does so without showing signs of stress.

 

What are your thoughts? Share your ideas or criticisms in the comments, or reach out to us directly on instagram or twitter @theUnists

And, always,

We’ll See You In The Circle

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