It seems ever so recent that people’s social lives have become completely taken over by technology. Evidence of this can be seen throughout all age groups. Most humans today use some type of web-based social networking tool. Whether it is Facebook, MySpace, or even eHarmony, our main ways of contact is over one of these social networking sites. No longer is most contact face-to-face or even over the phone. Humans are becoming cyborgs. In most cases, most humans already are cyborgs. Donna Haraway said it well in “A Cyborg Manifesto”, when she stated “By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs.” We are hybrids of machine and organism. No longer are we just humans, but have joined forces with the forces we have created, technology, to become super-humans, cyborgs, or cybernetic organisms. Although, it is not always a bad thing when we our aided by technology. I will talk more about that later.
The conversation starts in 1991 with Donna Haraway. She wrote all about it in her largely opinionated “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” The topics she wrote about in her article were wide and ready for further discussion. Most of what she had to say did have to do with cyborgs, but when she trailed off to talk about feminism it no longer concerned me, or this conversation. Donna does start the topic of how cyborgs will slowly kill the regular American family life. She says, “the main trouble with cyborgs, of course, is that they are the illegitimate offspring…” and“…illegitimate offspring are often exceedingly unfaithful to their origins. Their fathers, after all, are inessential.”(Haraway 151) I believe what she means is at one point we found our identities in our family; however, our identities are becoming more and more enveloped by technology. I often feel this way with my own family. Although biblically I know I am to honor my parents, I regularly feel voluntarily alienated from them. When we receive everything we want and need from technology, we lose reliance and faith in our parents, almost completely cutting them out of who we are.
Later in 2003, Kevin Warwick agrees in “Cyborg Morals, Cyborg Values, Cyborg Ethics” when he says “the human and machine together become an integrated system, a Cyborg, part human part machine.” (Warwick 131) Now I did mention how the change of humans to become cyborgs does have a positive side. Kevin seems to agree with me on this point when he states “Some could regard a blind man with his cane as a Cyborg, the cane feeding important information on the local environment, to the man. Meanwhile a hearing aid for a deaf person or even a pair of worn glasses could come into the same category…”(Warwick 131) We can see how even people that do not use computers can even be seen as cyborgs. In a lot of cases, there is no way how the mentioned subjects would cause someone’s relationships to deteriorate. However, a cane, or even a hearing aid would be quite the addition to ones identity. Whether nicknames are given to someone like “Jenny the girl with the cane”, or “Deaf as-a-lame-dog David”, you could see how this would affect the way someone sees himself or herself.
Over the years, the idea of all humans being cyborgs becomes more and more clear. We now have more examples of what fictional cyborgs look like and at points, we envy certain abilities they possess. If a certain trait is seen in a movie that is not yet possible by human beings, there is probably a tech somewhere trying to figure it out. It seemed like Andy Clark understood this in Natural-born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence, when he said:
Pretty soon, and still without the need for wires, surgery or bodily alterations, we shall be kin to the Terminator, to Eve 8, to Cable…just fill in your favorite fictional Cyborg. Perhaps we already are. For we shall be Cyborgs not in the merely superficial sense of combining flesh and wires, but in the more profound sense of being human-technology symbionts: thinking and reasoning systems whose minds and selves are spread across biological brain and non-biological circuitry (Clark p. 20)
As time goes on, and we become more involved with technology for a sense of identity development, we tend to lose our sense of how to actually feel loved. Andy also wrote “New waves of user-sensitive technology may soon bring this ancient process to a climax, as our minds and identities become ever more deeply enmeshed in a non-biological matrix of machines, tools, props, codes and semi-intelligent daily objects.” When we stop looking to humans for love and get our love bank full of temporary fulfilling emotions, that at the end of the day seem to vanish, we become depressed and lonely. We get down to wondering why do I feel this way, and never understand why. We can see now how the types of technology we have today are beginning to affect the world around us, as well as generations to come.
As the conversation continues, a bit more recently we can see that the very technology that is here to help and serve us can start to become a problem. Don Tapscott agrees with this though in “Grown up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your World” when he says “chances are you know a young person aged 11-31. You may be a parent, aunt, teacher, or manager. You have seen these young people multitasking five activities at once.”(Tapscott 101) When we learn to do many things at once, and that is the main way we do things, when it come time to study or read a book we become uninterested and bored. Doctors are prescribing pills to try and stop this issue while the problem is not that the person has ADD, but that they have trained themselves to not focus.
Later, Andy goes on to say, “They use the phone to text incessantly, surf the Web, find directions, take pictures and make videos, and collaborate. They seem to be on Facebook every chance they get, including at work. Instant messaging on Skype is always running in the background. And what’s with those video games? How can someone play World of Warcraft for five hours straight?” And we can see that Tapscott probably comes from an older age group in which people never really spent any time playing video games. But it is possible to do all of the mentioned activities at the same time if you switch from thing to thing. All of the mentioned items are browsed so frequently because they all involve certain parts of our identities. People strive for real relationships in an imaginary world like World of Warcraft. When they turn off the game where does that leave them?
Lastly, Albert Lejeune and Hamid Nach worked together to develop “Coping with Information Technology Challenges to Identity: A Theoretical Framework” In this article they make a very good point on identity “…the question ‘who am I?’” involves not only who or what people believe themselves to be but also how they should respond to social experiences and be regarded by others. So people will continuously act so as their reflected image match the image they hold about themselves.”(Lejeune, Nach 17) On any web-based social networking website, you can basically make-up who you are. After you meet a few people that believe the identity you have created, you have to live up to it. In high school, most students define their identity and start to live by it. By the end of their years in high school, they have developed their identity to a point where it is truthful. Over the four years, you may decide to change your identity altogether.
In conclusion, you can see how technology is already affecting us as well as how it will affect generations to come. How hard will it be for children to be raised by parents who are not that deeply concerned with family relationships? Will families be able to stay together at all in generations to come? Is it possible for people to drop their false identities that they birthed in this evil world system and return to a life of truth and love? Most of these things I have no answer for. I only hope that technology will not be the thing that, just like in so many movies, is what causes the end of the world.
Clark, Andy. Natural-born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence. Oxford; New York: Oxford UP, 2004. Print.
Haraway, Donna Jeanne. “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century.” Simians, Cyborgs, and Women: the Reinvention of Nature. New York: Routledge, 1991. 149-81. Print.
Nach, Hamid, and Albert Lejeune. “Coping with Information Technology Challenges to Identity: A Theoretical Framework.” Computers in Human Behavior July 26.4 (2010): 618-29. Print.
Tapscott, Don. Grown up Digital: How the Net Generation Is Changing Your World. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. Print.
Warwick, Kevin. “Cyborg Morals, Cyborg Values, Cyborg Ethics.” Ethics and Information Technology 5.3 (2003): 131-37. Print.
—-I got a bad grade on this sadly. I am not a writer.