Position Paper #3
Technology has a way of suppressing our voices. This may seem like an oxymoron considering every time I go online I can instantly tell how many shots of espresso my Twitter friend has in his coffee. I also can read and write editorials, much like this one, on any topic I feel inclined to be interested in, exposing myself to the global village and the global village to myself. But Technology, in all its glory and liberty, has a way of shutting all of us up due precisely to these examples alone. With so many voices and so many opportunities to scream out our opinions, when are we ever heard or listened to? And to what extent will people go to in order to be louder than everyone else?
This draws me to the ‘Unabomber’. I had heard this word mentioned over the years but until I read a chapter focused on this in Slack and Wise’s Culture and Technology, I never gave much thought to the chaos of absolute freedom of speech and communication through technology. The chapter focuses on Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber and member of FC (Freedom club), and his anti-industrial revolution manifesto. Kaczynski’s famous manifesto believed that essentially the industrial revolution and all of it’s capitalistic qualities would inevitably be disastrous for society and that a revolt against technology was needed. In 1985, for Kaczynski, this revolt came in the form of mail-sent bombs to various experts in fields of strong technological backgrounds. Years later, when the taste of his reign of terror was dulled, he contacted newspapers and media outlets, demanding to be published, to be heard, and he would stop the death toll. Now Kaczynski could’ve easily been that crazy and psychotic guy that everyone labelled him to be (and most likely was), but the bombs and innocent deaths have catapulted a spotlight onto his otherwise ignored manifesto, which is now still being taught in universities and known worldwide. The deaths of innocent people was a price Kaczynski was willing pay in order to be listened to – and that he was. Essentially we can see this same fanatical method in religious fundamentalists (suicide bombers and terrorists) in today’s society. As CNN’s terror alert goes red, in our fear, we are all too eager to listen.
Should we go around killing people so everyone will listen to whatever burns and ignites our passions? No, that’s not at all what I’m saying. Is technology a time bomb ready to countdown the destruction of modern social structure? No. But a strong and unsettling question comes into my mind as I sift through my facebook news feed, dismissing and barely paying attention to how Dan’s day was or how much Jenny hates ice cream. As technology is already wrapping us up in its barrelling ambition forward, it is giving us all the freedoms we so aptly accept to uncensor ourselves to the world inexplicably. Through all the positive aspects of advancement and connectivity that these tools have given us, the balance of instant communication and expression may lead to an overall isolation in itself. Meanwhile updating my facebook status, the only question I undeniably ask myself is, “is anyone even listening?”
Slack, Jennifer Daryl and J. Macgregor Wise. Culture + Technology: a Primer. New York: Peter Lang, 2007. Print.
Word Count: 555