Sunday, March 20, 2011
Communication As A Means of Separation
We once believed that communication was a form of unification. Communication allowed early man to hunt more effectively. The ability to record and understand the thoughts of others allowed us to pass down tools and knowledge to younger generations so that we could progress as a species. As we became more advanced technologically, our communication became more advanced. The more opportunities we created to be together however, the more opportunities we created to be apart. Therefore, our true nature is not one of connection and understanding but of separation and autonomy.
The answering machine was the first device that made us truly realize how much we hate each other. It was originally devised to connect us with all the people that we missed when we were not home. The thought was "I am missing a great portion of life by not being at home thus I will manufacture a device so that I can be two places at once." Well, it wasn't long before people exploited answering machines for their true purpose, screening calls. What better way to find out who is trying to get a a hold of you then by forcing them to expose themselves first. Is there any better way to get the upper hand in a friendship or relationship then to know the other persons intentions in advance? Also, what if you don't like the person who is calling and the only reason you ever talked to them in the first place was because of social obligation? Now you don't have to. By allowing the answering machine to do all the work we were able to remove ourselves from a level of human interaction.
Answering machines evolved into cell phones and blackberries. The cellphone was the best way to be with everyone and be with nobody at the same time. If you were afraid of having an awkward conversation about the weather with someone you don't know, you would simply flip open your cellphone and pretend to be talking to someone else. No longer did you worry about having to make small talk, or even talk directly to valet's, store clerks, baristas or hotel employees. All we had to do was keep blabbing and nodding to the imaginary person on the other end of the line while we rifled through our credit cards or wadded up dollar bills to pay for their service.
Certainly computers are the biggest and perhaps the final step in communication evolution. Computers once provided the means for all of the freaks and nutters to talk. The computer was a device that stopped the immediacy of knowing exactly how ugly the person on the other side of the screen was. Because of this it allowed ugly people a grace period long enough so that they could dupe someone else into loving them for their personality. Soon that all changed. Eventually the cool people wanted be on computers too and because of them the world became a lot more visual. Myspace, Youtube, Facebook. All of these services catered to the general public seemingly so that every individual could be heard, but all it did, was create another layer of insulation.
If I post it on my wall, I don't actually have to talk to you about it. If I post it on my wall, I don't have to regard you as an individual. Furthermore, you don't have to regard me as an individual either. Instead of saying something engaging you can just "like" my status. Instead of inquiring about how you are doing, I can just send you a request in Farmville. I will amass 3000 friends but I will not interact or engage with any of them on a personal level. Further, when I go out into the real world I will constantly update my Facebook page and check in on my pets in Pet Society while I am in class or at work.
We are not dividing and multiplying so that we can grow together, we are trying to grow apart. Every human cell is repulsed by every other human cell in a fight for supremacy and separation. The more we seem to fit together, the further we are falling apart.