How Technology Eventually Broke My Heart…
When I was a young man my parents bought an Apple IIGS computer, one of the first personal computers to reach the masses. This thing was state of the art at the time, you could print giant 10-foot long banners on your dot-matrix printer, create holiday cards, write stories, play some basic video games and learn some BASIC programming.
Then we got a Tandy Sensations computer and man this thing was boss. You could even dial up to the Sierra Imagination Network (it was costly!) and make your own avatar and chat with other users and even play Red Baron 3D online and become a dogfighting champion. The graphics may have been horrible, but your imagination and the network did the rest.
We had noble ideals for this newfound technology, the free sharing of information, the Wild West of Information Technology. In some ways it was just a modern version of extreme Liberty, Libertarianism, Freedom to do what you want the way you want to do it. The great USENET.
Early on the Newsgroups showed up, this was way before the W-W-W hierarchy. This was the dark world of the A-L-T. The joke at the time was that is was an acronym for: “Anarchists, Lunatics, and Terrorists”. And what was the biggest ALT spot of them all, ALT.SEX. This place was a particularly rough part of the old West. This saloon was for the diehard sex crazed degenerates. Reading Wikipedia, apparently this stuff still exists, which just shows you the lasting impacts of such an upstairs brothel of the mind.
Us youngsters still kept our ideals high, and we still believed in the great power of free information, even if some of its uses were extremely crass.
I should have seen early on that this was pure-utopianism, that human nature would again & again rear its ugly head, that the human urge to fall prey to some of the weakest impulses of man would soon show; Liberty & Libertarianism only works if everyone is awesome. Well I am here to tell you that everyone isn’t awesome. Some people suck. Some people really suck very badly.
Music was showing new peaks and bounds, you could listen to some new genre of music from some country on the other side of the Earth and it seemed for a moment, that Technology had changed the world of Art for the better. File sharing apps like Napster, Streaming apps like Realplayer & Winamp, New Social networks like MySpace & Friendster, Chat apps like ICQ & AIM all personalized to meet your needs and wants and connect you to the diversity of information & arts that was our world.
As a young man growing up with all this new technology around me, why not pursue an education and career in this realm of Technology and Liberty and Art! It was the digital Renaissance damnit, why not be part of the Renaissance?!
Or so I thought. Behind all of this lurked the worst ravages of human nature & it kept building & growing into the behemoth we see in front of us today. The endless gaming, the endless porn, the endless scrolling, the swipe right, the quad-captchas, tearing you apart bit by bit. What started off as a few “casual encounters” with Internet & Technology turned into a Craigslist nightmare, same name, totally different outcome.
Where Human Nature really bites, the Marketing-Schtick.
Now I must turn to yet another nefarious purposes of the Internet and use of Technology. Preying on peoples worst human nature and weakness for consumption.
I present to you, Marketing to Rubes 101:
1. Create a sense of Urgency (While supplies last!, Get it for X% off TODAY ONLY!)
2. Speak from Authority (Look at X famous person or X private or government agency which says this product is awesome and good for you!)
3. Social Proof (Look at all these likes & happy users with BIG HAPPY GAPING MOUTH SMILES!)
These are just some of the gimmicks the “soy-faced” Capitalists have used to turn our formerly freedom loving but sorta-trashy OLD Wild West town into the NEW Las Vegas ONLINE & ALWAYS in your pocket. Freedom doesn’t taste so good now does it? In fact, this might be the bitter aftertaste of technological slavery and it’s given me a case of indigestion.
Of all of this “Progress” (or is it Regress), Music probably breaks my heart the most because it used to speak to my heart the most. Music used to be unique, there used to be a diverse range of sounds out there to choose from. People had different equipment, different methods of assembling sounds and different goals in creating music, and it wasn’t for the bling. I am not saying good music does not exist today, it has and always will exist, but the shear volume of horrible ear wrenching music has increased tremendously. WAP anyone? Just listen to what is peddled today, not just in popular culture, but on the fringes as well, then go compare that to Chopin.
A wise man once said, Do not assume that what is labelled as progress & innovation is really that. Sometimes, without realizing it, we are not going forwards, we are actually going backwards. The inevitability that over time things improve is an illusion at best.
-Jesse Dustin of The Unists & rejectmodernity.substack.com
Let us know your thoughts: