tech-related maladies

The 11th chapter of the Powers book, ‘Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a good life in the digital age’, starts with a brief story of a panicked person who’s trapped in a constant interlink with coworkers, from which there is no mental unplugging.
The chapter talks about the philosophies of Marshall McLuhan, who accurately predicted the problems of the digital age, 1962. His philosophy had the prevailing theme that everyone has the ability to regulate their own experience. The book talks about how New tech doesn’t mean we all have to face the soul-crushing conformity and social demands of a new global village. [A crowded life means we are less free to be ourselves because we are judged against several more standards of norms]. “We ourselves are changed by our devices, and because we’re changed, society changes, too”(pg.198).
Written language and technologies  have more power over humans than the content they carry, because they provide an extension to our senses. Every time we invent something to help our senses reach further (letters, phones, tv) we are altering our mental reality. Later in the chapter, the mid-20th century tech is described as a brain-taxing environment, causing anxiety/unhappiness, as if the minds were under siege.   “The only way to cultivate a happy inner life is to spend time here, and that’s impossible when you’re constantly attending to the latest distraction. Attention deficit issues, internet addiction, and other tech-related maladies are all about being stuck in outward gear” (pg.201).
The chapter ends with the idea that we can control our tech-dependencies as long as we keep in mind how they affect us. For each person this task will be different.


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