Saturday, October 15, 2011

How far do we extend?

Technology is an extension of oneself, so kinda says Marshall McLuhan.
He also says something about the medium being the message, but let's not go there ...yet.
Firstly let's look at technology as an extension of the human body.
When the car was invented, people began walking less and relying more on automatic transport. Cars, buses, trains, planes, who needs feet anymore? Imagine the definition you'd have in your calves if the car had never been invented.

Think of a computer and using your keyboard (or even think back to a typewriter if you are a dinosaur like me and ever had the pleasure of using one). Suddenly the need for even using your hand to write a letter was removed. Mind you, you need two hands to type-if you're doing it properly ...maybe I should pick up a pencil more often?!

Anyways, I digress.....if we look at these technological advances as extensions of the body, we can see how they relate to our physical being. But what about our mental being?
This evening I found myself, as I often do, with my iphone in my hand. God bless that little gadget. Then I realized that I had no reason to have the phone in my hand. I had just finished chatting with a friend, I didn't have any outstanding text messages, I had recently checked Twitter and Facebook, what else could I possibly need my phone for? Maybe play a round or two of my latest addictive game- Mouse Maze? Nope, I didn't even need to do that.

I realized that I didn't need to have the phone in my hand, but I wanted to. I wanted to know exactly when the next tweet would come in, or the next thing my friend would say back to the text I sent earlier. My iphone is beginning to serve as my entire persona.
I don't even need to go somewhere to engage in conversation with someone, I can just text them!

I feel like some people might be used to this, we all know about cyber culture and how social media has made it easier than ever to interact with people at the click of a mouse button. Some people even started the Internet craze long ago in chat rooms, with ICQ or other founding cyber groups. Others are more recent to hop on the band wagon, with the increase in mobile devices being used for everything imaginable and the ways to communicate being endless.

It doesn't matter when you started, but if you are reading this, then its official; you have started. Your entire online identity is an extension of yourself. It's another version of you. One that is at a distance, but still visible. One that you must remember, is still a representation of yourself and can be used for or against you. It can also mean that the other representation of yourself, the real physical being that you present to people in person might be changing. Less face to face conversation, less planning in advance for get-togethers and less socializing outside of the home makes for social awkwardness when you finally do go back to the way things used to be.

What does this mean for the future? If 10 year olds are texting and watching videos on their phones, who is climbing trees or drawing with coloured sidewalk chalk? Well....I am...but that's beside the point. What I'm trying to say is: kids are getting fat and people are becoming cyborgs.

Well..maybe not full cyborgs, but they are becoming an alternate (lazier) version of themselves. One that can do anything with the touch of a button. One that doesn't need to make a call to their friend in France, because it's easier to just write on their Facebook wall.

I have seen the future and it's just not as fun. Put down the phone, ipad, or get off your computer. Go for a walk and be amazed at what you find. A world without a filter.

This has turned into a more random and cynical post than I intended, but you get the point..maybe.
I also love the irony that I'm writing this on my computer with my iphone right beside me. I guess moderation is key. Let's continue using technology to our advantage, but lets not go full cyborg alright?

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