In the book, Open Sky, by Paul Virilio, he opens up his first chapter by discussing how the entire world and they way society has functioned in the pass is being transformed by our current technologies and innovations in telecommunications.
He believes with all of our new modes of technology and communications, we “are killing ‘present’ time by isolating it from its here and now, in favour of a commutative elsewhere that no longer has anything to do with our ‘concrete presence’ in the world, but is the elsewhere of a ‘discrete telepresence’ that remains a complete mystery” (10).
I couldn’t agree more with Virilio. These days it seems as if people are talking more on social media sites, such as Twitter and Facebook, than they are to each other. Nothing aggravates me more than when I am catching up with an old friend who is more engaged in what is happening on their iPhone than in our conversation.
Additionally, Virilio mentions how our current telecommunications world has changed our lifestyles completely. While our new ways of communication are very efficient and convenient, it eliminates what Virilio describes as the “journey”.
“Currently, with the instantaneous broadcasting revolution, we are seeing the beginnings of a ‘generalized arrival’ whereby everything arrives without having to leave, the nineteenth century’s elimination of the journey (that is, of the space interval and of time) combining with the abolition of departure at the end of the twentieth, the journey thereby losing its successive components and being overtaken by arrival alone” (16).
With all of the new technologies available to us, Virilio believes we will eventually become immobile and just allow the machines to do all of our tasks for us. He uses the example of the Smart House, which he defines as “home automation” that “respond to our every whim”.
The Smart House example reminded me of a Disney Channel movie I watched as a kid, which happened to also be titled, “Smart House”. Here is a clip of the movie in which the house is completely run by a “robot mom” who basically takes care of the home and the children so the dad doesn’t even need to be around to supervise.
Questions to Ponder:
1) Do you think the new technologies that are constantly being introduced will lead us to be a lazier society?
2) How have you noticed your lifestyle changing as a result to these technologies?