Hyperreality: It is cold out there.

It was -24C when I got up this morning. The moon was shining bright, throwing shadows, long and dark, across the forest snow. Beautiful.

We only had two firings yesterday there is an early morning chill in air, which heavy socks and a down vest take care of nicely. Attila sleeps on, needing more sleep during these cold snaps because working outdoors in intense cold wears the body out quickly.

As I stand in the cold, my fingers tapping at the keyboard, adding little black lines to a back-lit screen, I am thinking that the the way I must interact with the world seems to prove Marshall McLuhan’s statement, “the medium is the message”. No matter how sincerely one attempts to communicate on the screen, through blogs, twitter, facebook, facetime etc., the coldness of the machine is the primary and immediate experience. Oh for the warmth and breadth of face-to-face communication! A hand on the shoulder, a hug, these things are fading from my experience, and I think in general human experience.

This transition from personal contact to digitally dominated contact has a profound effect on human culture. The young are not aware of the change, as they are caught up in the digital age of communication. The young can be seen with their heads down, peering into little screens, ignoring the people and activities around them, unaware that life was not always thus. Since we live on the Canadian Shield, I have come to call hooded young people, sitting on rock outcrops, hunched over cell phones or other digital devices, trolls-on-rocks. That is what they look like from a distance, beings out of old books of fairy tales. This is not a comment on the young as individuals, I would need to meet them face-to-face to have any idea of their individual character.

There are those of us who were around when computers required boxes of cards to operate, when no one had any kind of digital device for communication, and talking on the telephone was expensive and not always reliable. You see us, the people on the cusp of this change, as distinctly different groups in public places. We are the ones that are talking to each other, making eye contact, smiling, laughing and frowning with each other, communicating with a depth that is impossible on a machine. Surrounding us are groups of young people, sitting in isolated silence with each other, each focused and bent over a small digital screen, seldom glancing at “companions”, seldom aware of their surroundings at all.

These young people, hunched over their digital devices, are the people carrying human culture into the future. It seems to me a that it is a cold future, staring into a digital world that is almost completely created and controlled by corporate interests. How much is life like an intense video game to the young of this era? Are children of the digital age aware that other humans, besides themselves, have feelings and are not just emotionless objects moving around in the digital universe? When real people are shot or blown up, they bleed, they hurt, they die. When real people sustain physical injury they do not get to click START and begin anew as if nothing has happened; they must recover and live with pain, sometimes for the rest of their lives.

Well, that is just my perspective. Being a member of the human species, I too am lost in the digital social morass. If the human species survives its own hubris, someone in the future will DISCOVER that face-to-face contact is valuable and build an academic and possibly a corporate career based on their GENIUS. And because I feel this is possible, I take comfort that not everything about being human has changed.

Thoughts by the light of a full moon.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

-24 °C
Condition: Clear
Pressure: 103.3 kPa
Visibility: 16 km
Temperature: -24.1°C
Dewpoint: -26.5°C
Humidity: 81 %

Quote

“Art is either plagiarism or revolution.”
Paul Gauguin
1848 – 1903

“We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to.”
W. Somerset Maugham
1874 – 1965

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8 Responses to Hyperreality: It is cold out there.

  1. Bex says:

    Well said Maggie. The world is changing and I don’t know if going back will be an option anytime soon.

  2. I was wondering if you’d kept at your standing computer! I see that you have.
    I’ve set mine up the same and been standing at it at least 20 hrs a week, with half-hour sit-down breaks between.
    Wish I could have it more moveable, so I could stand one hour, sit the next, stand again, etc.
    Must get desk-shopping!

  3. Maggie says:

    Still standing Kate! I have a desk on wheels with a long cord so I can move it around the room to accomodate light and the heating system. It works for me right now, using boxes and books to keep keyboard and mouse at ergonomically comfortable heights. I wonder if you will find a desk designed for standing? I look forward to hearing about your eventual solution.

  4. Joan says:

    So well written! I agree completely. One almost wonders if civilization would be improved by a zap! and no more of these tools. How would the young ever manage? Would they ever learn to really connect? So sad, I see some mothers texting away, completely ignoring their young babies and children.

  5. Steve-Paul says:

    Very well said. One ameliorating factor may be that teenagers have typically been sullen and uncommunicative, at least with grownups, for many generations. It will be interesting to see how that changes as they get older. But I’m being optimistic.

  6. Maggie says:

    Bex, I wonder if in the distant future where it is finally “discovered” that face-to-face contact is valuable, that there will be some way to ensure that it becomes a commodity from which profit can be made. They managed it with water.

  7. Maggie says:

    Scary thought Joan, that humans would lose the skill of face-to-face contact completely. It would be a very different world, almost a Matrix kind of existence.

  8. Maggie says:

    I like optimism. Optimism is always a good idea, and sometimes it does facilitate better outcomes. As many others have noted, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.