A Father’s Day rumination
I wonder if, inasmuch as we are all consumers, we are being made into objects ourselves. Are we becoming the objects of technology, as it generates more and more entertainment and games, and as it stretches the very notion of entertainment to cover almost everything we do, watch, and think. Granted, we must be entertained! But if we are becoming a new species, homo-entertainéd, are we willingly following this piper wherever it seeks to lead?
With our overpowering interest in all things roboticized, in all things that could be provided to us by robots, would we even notice this evolutionary process?
Curious that rather than pursue more human goals and interests -- understanding, vision, calmness, intelligence, creative impulses, feelings and love – we open our mouths for the spoonfuls of entertainment, and swallow most of it, no matter its source, from dark sites on the internet to the CBC.
New forms of entertainment don’t differ from the old in their goals – both divert us, providing a break for a little excitement or laughter, and also to create and sustain the dominant myths of our times and society. These forms differ in delivery, certainly, and that’s a big part of the excitement they generate. Delivery, however, carries new costs – in personal privacy and in security – and we have yet to figure out exactly what these are, and figure out just what they cost. Isn’t it OK to give up our privacy to have 24-hour contact with friends, family and the job? OK to have our movements recorded? Our conversations monitored?
The problems extend deeper, in that the more complicated our intellectual infrastructure, the more places there are for interference – for hacking and data theft. Every node in the system is a point of infection or infiltration. That’s an awful lot for us to stay attuned to, and there’s the rub.
A minor effect of this full-spectrum infiltration of our private lives is the sense of being watched or observed. Some adults, raised before this, may notice and attempt evasion. But kids? They are growing up feeling observed; how thoroughly will they object when “observation” morphs into manipulation? Farfetched? What about the last US election, a lot of those manufactured stories were not stories, they were manipulation efforts.
Who wonders about the results of the Ontario election this month? Why were we so puzzled with the results? Because now it seems there may have been something else going on, another campaign entirely, than the media-reported speeches and polls? Ontario voters did not outwit the manipulators, that’s what the polls told us.
As the American poet Kenneth Fearing advised, “it is usually wise not to count on a happy ending”. That goes for our own interpretations of what’s being done to us, and what we are then undertaking, in consequence. The very point is to make all this invisible. To us.
So, do we need x-ray glasses the next time we power up our devices? Or, naw, who needs ‘em!