Position Paper I – Control

In 1949 George Orwell portrays a chilling world where large bureaucracies use computers to monitor and enslave the population in his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four

As a first term student starting CultureNet in Spring 08, one of our main resources is a book called Culture + Technology: A Primer by Jennifer Daryl Slack and J. Macgregor Wise. This book is not an ordinary text book, but instead covers controversial issues about technology and its effects on our communication and lifestyles. A topic that especially caught my interest was how society’s and technology’s paths have become so intertwined, that our dependence on technology has made us slaves to the very thing we created to enslave. As an avid techno-nerd, I wholeheartedly agree with this concept.

Think about the last time you forgot your cell phone. How did it feel not knowing the time? Not being able to text message your friend in the next class, or call your loved ones at the touch of a button? From my experience, most people feel pretty lost or even naked without their beloved cellular device. But if a cell phone was capable, what do you think the phone feel? Nothing. It doesn’t need us, but we have become so dependant on it. We keep our cell phones clean, carry it everywhere with us, buy it necessities, and even charge it when it feels drained of energy.

This mobile device was created for our own convenience, or in other words to be enslaved by us users, and to be utilized for its features that were sold to us by large corporations. But is it really us the consumers who are in control? Stop and think for a second – who has the power now? Us, the technology, or the large corporations telling us we need to buy these new gadgets in order to “improve our lives”? In the whole scheme of things, all these new technological inventions are really just a battle of control over us unsuspecting consumers – a coy game of master and slave. We trust that these technologies will work and that those large companies and bureaucracies are really just looking out for our better interests by creating and endorsing these products, when really, the more we use them, the more we become slaves to them.

An excellent example is your car; just think about how much money and energy you constantly feed into keeping your car well maintained and fueled, and how much you depend on it to get you to point A to point B. If this said car were to ever stop working, you would be devastated. Was this slavery worth it? Many people would say it is, just for the convenience of it all.

Personally I’m not against technology. As admitted before, I am quite dependant on these everyday “necessities” and don’t anytime soon intend on ending this master-slave relationship. I just think it’s necessary for the rest of the world to be aware of this ever-growing courtship. I find it very fascinating to realize that even if I know I am in some ways a slave to these technologies, I really don’t mind! That’s some good brainwashing skills for you there ladies and gentlemen.

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