To comically misinterpret the lyrics and meaning of Pat Benatar’s classic hit discography, while her songs describe the relationship between love and heartache, the irony of our current relationship with the media and technology reflects the all too realistic perspectives of the articles written by Nicholas Carr and Chuck Klosterman.
We are young, heartache to heartache we stand
No promises, no demands
“Tech” is a battlefield
– Love Technology is a Battlefield
By acknowledging our desperate need to overcome or at least control the affects of the medium, the adjustments made to the song more appropriately describe the heartache that has developed as a result of incessant technological use. Our Generation, Generation Y or better known as the Generation Millennials have been identified as having difficulty maintaining focus towards more traditional forms of literature, rather than blog postings or online articles. To say that “Technology is a Battlefield” would be to say that the ongoing relationship with using computers and smart phones in our everyday lives do indeed provide the efficiency and leisure that our human nature has always desired, however we are running into an even bigger problem as a result. Both articles, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” and “Fail,” an essay from Klosterman’s Eating the Dinosaur contain great insight about the way that technology has altered our methods of processing and interpreting information. However, based on Chuck Klosterman’s history of pairing comedic relief with his writings, Nicholas Carr gravitates towards a more holistic approach to the detriments of technology.
While reading the Carr’s article, I felt myself drifting, even as I digested his all too truthful conviction about the human attention span. During an earlier segment, he mentioned the difficulty that individuals experience with longer readings or stagnant settings and although the article was a fairly easy read (content wise – no wordy jargon), it felt as though the article was a bit too long. For an online article, there were eight-pages too many, followed by an immediate sense of guilt for even thinking the thought. The trend has now shifted towards easy and convenient reads, which require little to no effort on our part. So, in order to defend myself, I will agree with Carr and blame technology. “Thanks to the ubiquity of text on the Internet, not to mention the popularity of text messaging on cell phones, we may well be reading more today than we did in the 1970s or 1980s, when television was our medium of choice” (Carr, 3). To examine his claim even further, reflecting back on the heightened concerns of the late 90s, even watching television presented an issue. Based on the idea that too much consumption would (1) attribute to weight gain, (2) develop bad habits, and/or (3) hinder your eyesight, Carr highlights the early stages of media’s involvement with our everyday life.
As a “communicative system,” I also found Carr’s argument about the function of the Internet as “an immeasurably powerful computing system, subsuming most of our other intellectual technologies,” possessing an incredible truth. Take a moment to reflect on your own daily functions. Technology is “becoming our map and our clock,” getting us from point A to point B and waking us up in time to shower before class in the morning, “our printing press and our typewriter,” allowing us to take notes or jot down creative ideas, “our calculator and our phone,” for obvious reasons, and our “radio and TV” with all the new applications to stream music and videos (Carr, 5). Essentially, this all-in-one is not only making itself readily available in the palm of our hands, but is also forcing users into a corner, making it almost impossible to function without it. Technology serves as the human brain by placing all of its components in a single location. Easy to see and easy to use, allowing us to focus our efforts elsewhere. Thus, “never has a communications system played so many roles in our lives – or exerted such broad influence over our thoughts – as the Internet does today” (Carr, 5). Instead of arguing that “in the future the system must be first,” I would argue that the system is now (Carr, 6). We are more likely to be concerned with the functionality and diagnostics of our media products, more or less similar to the ways in which we treat our human bodies. To summarize Carr, “the human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive,” and that continues to battle with technology for our undivided attention (Carr, 7).
Shifting towards the second article, Chuck Klosterman focuses on the behavioral traits of the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, to describe technology’s involvement with interpretation and motivation. Similarly, Klosterman believes that “all technology has a positive short-term effect and a negative long-term impact, and – on balance – the exponential upsurge of technology’s social import has been detrimental to the human experience” (213). Although his statement reads correct, I find some hesitancy in believing the ultimate “negative” long-term impact he describes. Time and time again, parents are urged to monitor their child’s Internet consumption. Fearful they may become socially awkward, technology was again to blame. Thus, based on who you ask, I am led to believe that the phrase “technology is your friend,” is actually a conflicting statement. If we consider the hiber-thinking mode that individuals achieve by isolating themselves in the woods or through media fasting or if society rejects technology as a whole, the negative impact remains. If not, the impact cannot be deemed as negative.
Coding Reflections: I’ve really enjoyed working on the beginning stages of hypothetical sites. Learning the foundational information is a refresher and I hope to be able to get creative soon!