Some Frightening Things About Popular Technology

Frederick Jameson said that “Contemporary people alternate between states of euphoria and anxiety.”

Euphoria, perhaps, because that is one natural reaction to being in the state of perpetual stimulation and entertainment and comfort (at least objectively) that we, the middle class, experience. Every minute, 48 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube. Any thought of YouTube, really, or Hulu or Grooveshark, makes one realize how kind of horrifyingly immense is the amount of entertainment available to anyone with an internet connection.

Cyborgs are probably going to start showing up soon. Hopefully Jean Luc Picard will be among them (if we can get a non-evil version).

You could do nothing but read, watch, and play on the internet for the rest of your life and there would still be more things you hadn’t seen or read. Information has always been that vast – for at least the last few centuries – but never before has it been so readily available almost all the time. With smartphones and future developments like SixthSense, access to the internet is going to start feeling like an extra limb – something without which you will feel nervous and clumsy and limited. For some people, this is already true – think about most people who’ve owned a smartphone for more than a few months, or anyone in a fantasy football league, or the fact that a SecondLife Shakespeare Company exists.

In The Shallows (read a good reflection on the book at The Millions), Nicholas Carr speculates and muses about the various psychological, social, and cultural effects of more completely immersing ourselves in an environment made entirely out of nonphysical stimulation.

As a member of the first generation to really experience internet access (if you count AOL 4.0 as internet access) for our whole lives, I look to the future of the human brain with interest and horror.

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