In Part III of Paul Virilio’s “Open Sky,” he continues his in depth discussion of how disconnected the human species has become with all of our new technologies and advancements in science. Nothing is tangible anymore when we are devoting our lives to this new virtual social sphere. It is twisting our everyday perception in his opinion.
“In the face of this ‘perceptual disorder’ that affects each and every one of us it might be appropriate to reconsider the ethics of common perception: are we about to lose our status as eyewitnesses of tangible reality once and for all, to the benefit of technical substitutes, protheses for all seasons which will make of us ‘visually challenged’” (91).
In other words, with all of these new technologies developing not only in tangible products, but in medicine and beyond, we are no longer in control of our very own reality.
With everyone being controlled by the same technologies, we will reach what Virilio refers to as “the standardization of vision” (92).
We will be so attached to this virtual perception and life that Virilio thinks we will no longer interact as human beings in a face to face physical setting. He argues this to the point of saying we will no longer even be drawn to reproduce as a species.
“What was till now still ‘vital’, copulation, suddenly becomes optional, turning into the practice of remote-control masturbation” (104).
This may be a litter far-fetched of Virilio to be saying in a book published in 1997, however he has a relative point. “The end of the supremacy of physical proximity in the megalopolis of the postindustrial age will not content itself with promoting a boom in the single-parent family” (106). It’s becoming more and more evident in the age of the iPhone and iPad, that alongside our ongoing technological evolution we are also experiencing a change in our own family values.
Nothing saddens me more than going out to dinner with my family, who still holds on strong to our traditions, and I see young kids playing games or even watching a movie on an iPad instead of engaging in conversation with their immediate families. While it is deemed acceptable to new families in that generation, I find it absurd to think my parents would ever allow me to pull an iPad out in a restaurant, let alone my iPhone (which my Dad demands we all leave in the parked car).
Many important leaders have agreed with me on the topic of gadgets being present at the dinner table. This article in the Daily Mail, is right on target with me in being driven crazy by “people constantly having their ‘noses glued’ to smartphones and iPads”.
I think it’s about time we as a society have a reality check. Live life outside the gadget.
Questions to Ponder:
1) What is your opinion on family values changing with the introduction of all the new gadgets?
2) Are these new innovations good and bad for human contact?