Making us superhuman or less human?
“Oh, Andy loved geology. I imagine it appealed to his meticulous nature. An ice age here, million years of mountain building there. Geology is the study of pressure and time. That's all it takes, really. Pressure, and time. That and a big goddamn poster.” – Red, The Shawshank Redemption
Yes, we’re moving forward in time, but are we really “progressing”? It almost goes without saying that there are things we’ve become incredibly efficient at and yet there are things in which we have lost our way. Our concept of time, the direction and development of technology, and such effects on our communication and relationships (amongst others) are but a few areas in which we’ve witnessed fundamental changes in our being.
“We went from getting off the ground to landing on the moon in 50 years. Small wonder people can’t keep up with changes in technology.”
I could have easily split this article into two and discussed time and technology separately, but the overlap is noticeable to the point where we are now – almost inseparable. Thinking about humans pre and post time measurement, are we necessarily better off? In many ways we are, but when we’re at our most happiest or most in the zone we’re not conscious of time. Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony.
“Man marvelled at creating the clock, but then enslaved itself to the concept of time.”
We live in a time-obsessed culture, one of productivity and efficiency, of ease and convenience, of anxiety and depression, of nostalgia and FOMO. We regularly say, “I don’t have time” or ask “what’s the time?”, “how long will it take?”, “How much can I fit in before…?”, but “it’s okay, I have X time before I need to be here” – from walks to work to workouts, everything is time-monitored…and it’s exhausting!
“Quantitative vs Qualitative – we can do more with less, but we are less satisfied.”
I feel there is this incessant push to “get on board”, “technology is here to stay”, “embrace technology”, but does anyone stop to think this might not be as good for us in qualitative terms? I mean, it’s a no-brainer that increases in technology across society has coincided with a meteoric rise in mental health issues. I’m not the only one to see a worrying trend of self-worshipping our apparent “brilliance”.
“Everything needs ‘updates’ all the time, everything needs to be ‘online’ all the time, everything is ‘tracking’ you all the time.”
Each era or epoch of time has its pros and cons when living through them. Our perception of time has certainly quickened as we live faster and faster paced lives, trying to cram in more and more. People in the past do give off that vibe of living slower. In a strange way this was perfectly illustrated in the video game Red Dead Redemption II (set in the late 1800’s), where a number of players complained about it being too slow. It’s like there was this fundamental disagreement between the modern way of life and that of yesteryear.
I would never have consider myself old enough, but I’ve already dropped numerous “back in my day…” examples like I’m Murray Walker describing Silverstone (“there were all trees here when I was a lad!”). I do have empathy for those who have lived through vehicle-less, computer-less, internet-less, phone-less existences, in part because I’ve done a little of that myself, but seriously it must be daylight between those time periods and genuinely daunting to confront life as it is now.
If I may return to the effects on our communicating and relations with other humans technology has increased our reach with each other as a species, but the depth and quality of such connections remains a lot to be desired. Technology has advanced the disposability of humans. Most of us passively intake the lives of others we know, and if we’re no longer interested we just throw them away at the touch of a button. We’ve gone from organising dates face-to-face to finding a fuck via an app and divorcing via text message. We really are the creators of our own demise.
“I deeply worry about people becoming less human, “it’s in our nature to destroy ourselves” my fellow Blood Brothers.”
I can’t help but feel we’re removing the essence of what makes us human, and the tragic part is that we’re doing it consciously and willingly. You can’t build a human being like you build a robot. Humans make poor robots and robots make poor humans. I half think to myself that the reason why people are increasingly preferring animals to other humans is because humans have become so deranged from their essence they’re no longer optimal to be around (nor worth it).
Time remains constant, and it certainly waits for no one. We must not become so enamoured with ourselves and our technology that we elevate them to the top of the proverbial pyramid. We are here to utilise technology, but it’s fast becoming the other way around. The key feature about humans is our ability to adapt to the environment we’re in, but doing so to a profoundly sick one is no optimal adaptation in the slightest.