Techno-romanticism

Technology is like air; we live and breathe it and would ‘die’ without it. In modern times, technology infiltrates our lives. I witnessed an example of this today at Subway. While waiting in the line to order, an eight year old paid for his Subway with a debit card before answering a call on his iPhone. I don’t know why, but this terrifies me. This very action caused me to reflect upon what I was doing when I was 8 – and it certainly was not that.

It seems that our reliance on these global communication networks, particularly through the growth of the Internet and cyberspace, has developed a type of infatuation with technology itself. In my eyes, it could be portrayed as a romantic novel, where the internet promised it’s user to end individual isolation and foster inter-societal understanding – how romantic. Similar to the idea underlying the dream of global harmony and world peace, the idea underlying the dream of mediated proximity is that the availability of more communication contributes to the enhancement of social relations. But does this novel have the ‘happily ever after’ ending that we romantics are really looking for?

 
Kelly (1999) iterates that one by one, each of the things that we care about in life is touched by science and then altered. Human expression, thought, communication, and even human life have been infiltrated by high technology. But can this romanitically infatuated embryonic dependence (as seen in today’s subway situation) be deemed as healthy for society? If communication is the foundation of society, of our culture, of our humanity, of our own individual identity, and of all economic systems, yet all of these aspects are now focused online, can they be considered as part of our physical reality, or are they merely virtual reality?

Reference:

Barlow, J.P. (1996) A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace [URL: https://projects.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html%5D.

Dyson, E., Gilder, G., Keyworth, G., Toffler, A. (1994) Cyberspace and the American Dream: A Magna Carta for the Knowledge Age [URL: http://www.pff.org/issues-pubs/futureinsights/fi1.2magnacarta.html%5D.

Mitew, T 2012, The Network Scoiety, DIGC202, Global Networks, University of Wollongong, delivered 6 August.

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8 thoughts on “Techno-romanticism

  1. That’s insane (the subway thing). It’s one thing to be technologically literate, but I don’t think that means technology needs to be incorporated into everything. Online technology serves a purpose but I think it’s more toward being “functional anarchy” than being a romantic novel. So I think over reliance on online technology can be unhealthy.

  2. ‘Each of the things that we care about in life is touched by science and then altered’. I love this quote. It really makes you step back and question why we are so engaged in this global network. While this cyberspace may be a faster and more efficient place to communicate, is it worth forgetting how to communicate in reality? Smartphones for instance, makes ‘multi-presence’ possible. But since when do we really need to know what’s happening everywhere all the time? What’s wrong with simply engaging with the person sitting right in front of you?

  3. It’s funny to think, as you stated at the beginning of your blog, the things which we used to do when we were 8, nothing which incorporated the amounts of technology which 8 year olds today consume themselves. I see this as well, through my younger cousins, they all her iPads or mobile phones, iPod touches or PS3s. I didn’t get my first mobile phone until I was 13, and it was far from advanced as they are today. It is interesting to think about they what types of technology our children will be immersing themselves within, as you conclude your blog, a physical or virtual reality?

  4. This is so true! Technology is “taking over” everyone’s lives, especially those who are born in today’s society and don’t know any better than to rely on a mobile phone and the internet.
    It is scary though to think how young children are becoming reliant on technology today…what are future generations in 20 years going to be like? Will these generations even know how to use a pen and paper to write, or will every aspect of their lives revolve around and function through technology?

  5. I believe that technology has become such a large part of everyone’s lives, in which there is a huge reliance on technology to do ordinary tasks such as transferring money all on the touch of your phone. This refers more to the convergence of platforms as a part of technology, but it is frightening to think that the younger generations are using these forms of technology and have more knowledge probably than what i do. With your point on whether communication as the foundation of society is becoming physical reality or virtual reality, in my opinion technology will continue to change the landscape and dynamics of communication. The two concepts of physical reality and virtual reality are being intrinsically linked in the new economy in which this will keep evolving and pushing the boundaries of what is communication in society.

  6. Wow, when I was eight I didn’t even use the computer! I was constantly outside playing with friends at the park or outside my house. I get we’re you’re coming from, when iPad’s were first released I saw so many young kids at the local shopping center playing on them or at the train station and I couldn’t help but think to myself, why are you playing on an iPad?! Go for a ride on your bike or something. Even Play School has taken to teaching kids how to use social media on their show.

  7. I really like your analogy of the ‘romantic novel’ here Nikki! It makes me think back to when I first purchased my iPhone – I was instantly in love with this small piece of technology and was extremely excited by all the promises it made to me without really saying anything at all. Three years down the track, my beloved iPhone dragged me into a constant dependence on the device and caused my regular disappearance into my personal information space. I do wonder if this is a concern to because of the state of transition we are living in.. will the next generation (those 8-year old iPhone tappin’ debit card payin’ kids) think this is just normal?

  8. I like the term ‘die’ that you use. We all think that without technology that would be the result – we depend on technology for virtually everything. In relation to your Subway story, my sister is 11 years old and she has an iPhone, MacBook and much more. I would have only dreamed of having such technology when I was her age. I think the technology gap between our generation and theirs is now so great that I’m scared as to think what our children will be using and at what age. I really like how you referred to our infatuation with technology to a romantic novel. In a way it is, technology promises us to make our lives easier.

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