The last time I wrote an article, I was sure the reader was going to be, well, reading it. It’s kind of obvious that I would assume the same this time around, right?
This time around, you could be reading this article or having it read to you, or probably having yourself reminded to read it later. You could then talk back to the article and I’d be able to have your comment read to me. Okay, wishful thinking apart, the point is: How quickly our assumptions must change! How ‘obvious’ could really do with a new definition every now and then!
When the ‘obvious’ changes, it changes a lot with it.
The one thing still pretty obvious to me, though, is that when the ‘obvious’ changes, it changes a lot with it. As it has. Remembering friends’s phone numbers, writing letters to stay in touch, being out of contact when in the wild has all passed from obviously to obviously not in the past decade. And now, again, we’re on the road to change. Like a lot of dear friends have expressed, “We’re on for some mad shit, dude!”
Maybe not in the same syntax, but I would agree. Being able to just talk to the phone to get things done, remind ourselves of events, stay in touch, locate cafés, complain about the weather and actually get a suggestion in return—it’s going to make a new set of things not so obvious. Like, maybe, being able to tell the weather from the wind, asking locals for the best restaurant in the vicinity or knowing that you must call the fire department if there is a fire. You could think it too regressive/cynical/stupid, but I cannot help thinking it: what is going to be the place of common sense? What is the role of memory? What is the new-age ‘instinct’? Do we ‘intuitively’ know anything? Could we take a chance on a little café that looks to be good?
What I am thinking about most is how much we are doing by default. With this most effective technological leap, doing anything is as simple as knowing that you want to do it. You get a message and thinking about replying is as good as replying to it. We stay in touch, we reach on time for a meeting, we are protected from the rain, we wish our spouse on our anniversary or even call a doctor when we sneeze—just by default!
Isn’t it akin to losing control of daily life? I mean, imagine if all the regular stuff that constitutes the basic living side of life happens by default, what are we really controlling? There is another wonderful outcome, though, that only bias could overrule. The amount of time we would have to do the stuff that really matters—be creative, make money, crack deals, sell art, take decisions. It is great to be able to delegate the menial to the machine and keep the really complicated for our brains.
However, if we stop receiving signals from the world—stop realising what an extra ‘!’ in a text means, stop figuring out whether the way back is towards the left or not, cannot judge if it is going to rain or not—how slow have our minds then become? How alert are we? How agile are our senses? How are we fulfilling the basic ability of reflex? Is our reflex going to be outsourced? Are you going to tell me it can be?
Donna Haraway described us as ‘cyborgs’: self-regulating human machine systems. And to hugely simplify the suggestion, technology is going to be us. We have understood, shared, criticised, loved the intrusions that updating statuses or BBM-ing in the middle of conversations are. Well, we’ve just moved up the ladder. With the latest advancement at our disposal, interacting through (and with!) technology is so simple that it is almost non-intrusive. If intrusion itself becomes non-intrusive, what is then the significance of exclusive attention?
But the case now is not limited to just intrusion. Someone on Wired.com commented, “It’s kind of like having the unpaid intern of my dreams at my beck and call, organising my life for me.” Well, sounds about right. Except that it’s not! The unpaid intern sure maybe at our beck and call, but is not going to do everything we ask of her/him. And then? How are we going to respond to “Sorry, I cannot do this for you”? He/she is not going to know everything. How are we going to be able to deal with lack of information?
And God forbid we were to somehow, despite our love and adoration and care, misplace our beloved gadget—how would we deal with life then?
My dear friends would then be completely right. It would be mad. And it would be shit.