Technology is great. From Bill Gates being able to turn poop into water, to the looming prospect of a 3D printer and self-driving car in every home to the high speeds I can download hardcore BDSM pornography to my computer and then have the ability to plaster it on monitors on Yonge-Dundas Square, it is everything and more that the great Negroponte-damus could have ever thought to have conceived and more. Our modern world has made dreams thought to be impossible come true as the capabilities of devices grow ever more as the years go by.
Of course, the greatest advent of them all is that little thing we call the Internet. Ah, the Internet…it seemed like such a bizarre niche thing in the past. The personal computer wasn’t much with the people, with those who had it seeing it as a cryptic device that was dug up from Area 51. Graphics really had you stretching your imagination and the slow speeds gave you enough time to watch all three Godfathers on VHS. The internet itself wasn’t much to talk about, with few sites to visit and not much satisfaction coming at it as a result. If this was the cybernetic future, then boy did it seem lame. Advertisements didn’t help with the random assortment of polyhedral shapes and vector grids, the very primitive-looking rendered environments and of course any assortment of jet black, midnight blue, neon green or hot pink your little eyes could handle. It all seemed cheesy and absurd. I mean come on, you’re telling me that this little screen’s gonna take over my life? I believe you…NOT. TV will remain supreme and so will Blockbuster. So later, you loser nerd! Have fun with your stupid Apple stocks!
But much like vaporwave which adopted the aesthetics of the Web 1.0 era, the internet became shockingly successful. As computers began to improve, so did the internet. People who found themselves shackled to the grip of the television now found themselves switching to the computer and adding on the weights of the smartphone to it. More and more of us have become enslaved to the digital devices and the services that it provides. All hail Google, all hail Facebook, all hail Amazon! I am but a mere ant amongst your digital might!
Okay, I’m being quite pretentious with how tangled our lives and our devices are. And I know how us millennials feel about it when people start to go on their Luddite rant about how “technology is making us less social not more” and “how we’re so dependent on technology”, be them old farts or young farts. As a Computer Science student, I certainly find myself rejecting the negativity that people have towards technology because if that shit catches on then I’m out of job and I’ll be damned if I have no secure fallback getting out of university-I’M NOT GOING TO ROT ON THE STREETS YOU FUCKS. But you know what, I can certainly sympathize with them.
Technology, for all it’s awesome advances, also brings about horrible realities. Unmanned drones can kill hundreds in the blink of an eye. A hacker can access your bank statements in a couple of seconds. And the government clearly is spying on so many of us masturbating to pictures that could very well incriminate us. Our lives have become far more intertwined with the technological advancements that we’ve made. Things can become fads and obsolete at faster rates than we can even comprehend…and that’s not just the memes. Life is truly hyper accelerated and what keeps up still running are those devices that push us faster through the day.
I certainly find myself being incredibly aggravated by those who don’t see the massive reach that our devices have to spheres of the world as perhaps aiding in the way we relate to each other. Surely because someone is on their phone does not mean that they can’t be texting a loved one. There is emotion behind what some may see as obsession with an infernal anti-social magnifier. But it’d be foolish to say that we aren’t obsessed. I mean we’ve all been in that odd situation where we’re among friends and it seems like everyone else is on their phones despite there not being a real reason for it. Sometimes we’re the assholes that are just too immersed in some Vine or Twitter war to be more “social”. We may not be sheeple, but that doesn’t mean we don’t occasionally let out a “baa” once in a while.
More so than that, I believe that because of just how powerful our technology has gotten that we’ve managed to create a second self as a result of it. I refer to this self as the technological self, one which has a virtual face and a hardware core. The virtual face is one which changes drastically on the avenues that it traverses on the internet, it is the million of avatars that we all adopt. The hardware core is the all the information that we choose to amass and save onto our devices. Be it our stories, our memories or our shitty jokes. The technological self is both as mortal as we are and able to transcend time even beyond our death. For it is vulnerable to many attacks, ones which can destroy it quite significantly and hurt us too in the process. But is also able to leave our imprint, be it through folly or through triumph.
So to you I say but one thing – be aware of your technological self. Know that it can be susceptible to damage, so that you find about how conversations of cybersecurity can help maintain its sanctity. Know that it as big as you make it out to be, so be mindful of what you store and how you store it. Know that its beauty can be masked by its ugliness, so tread carefully. And most of all, know that there are cybernetic gods out there, some benevolent and others not. So be aware of their actions and be conscious of their motives. For soon they may reach us closer than they already do.