Before I begin, I want you to watch this short poetry slam performance a friend of mine shared on Facebook this morning:
I just watched this again. Let me tell you how I felt: Afraid. Stressed. Thoughtful.
I could try to tell you which words and phrases stand out for me but I would be quoting the entire poem. Instead, the one thing that struck me was the movement Jones uses throughout his entire performance: robotic. He is a man-turned-computer and that terrifies me. Why? Because even though his movements are exaggerated and cartoonish, to some extent, I don’t think he’s far off the mark. I feel like we are slowly turning into robots, becoming more and more dependent on technological communication in order to feel something. Anything. This image of needing technology to become advanced enough “to make us human again” stops me in my tracks because we’re already human, always were, and the idea that we’re becoming dehumanized through technology frightens me, especially since dehumanizing us isn’t making us immortal; it’s making us less-than-human, things to be used instead of loved and cherished and respected.
What we are forgetting is that technology is the tool, that thing to be used. Not something to substitute for human relationships and connection. I know I am as bad as anyone else living in the technological age; I know I have become addicted to technology. It takes a lot of effort for me to remember life before the cell phone, the internet. Seriously, why do most of us turn on the computer these days (if we turn them off in the first place, that is) if not to go online, to check our email, to check Facebook, to see if anyone has tried to connect with us. If I went on the computer back in the day (my Mom’s old Mac desktop she used for work) it was to play some sort of educational game (since that’s all Mac really had). And that only lasted until one of the neighbourhood kids stopped by to see if my brother and I could come out and play, which we did, every time. There wasn’t even a question of which was more important. Now, though, we’re content to sit at our computers and feed ourselves with pithy images of Grumpy Cat, watch Charlie the Unicorn have his kidney stolen on YouTube, and create Pinterest boards for our future weddings (which might not even happen if we’re content to sit staring at our screens instead of actually meeting people face-to-face).
You know what really scares me, though? I have been away from my family for most of these past seven months. I generally only see them via Skype. What happened when I got back home for a couple weeks to visit? I felt like I’d just seen them and therefore didn’t feel like I needed to talk with them, to connect, not really. WHAT?! I’d been away for almost seven months and felt like I’d still been there even though I clearly had not been? That’s the problem with things like Skype: they can give you the illusion that you’ve never left and are still in the loop. What I came to realize, however, is that as much as I felt like I hadn’t left, I didn’t really have any idea of what was going on in my brother’s life other than what I could see on his Facebook page. Terrifying.
I don’t know where I’m really going with this at this point; all my juice seems to have left me. All I know is that if we continue in this passive, technological way of learning about each others’ lives instead of actively seeking connection, we will turn into mindless, static robots that will need even more technology to boost our humanity to its rightful capacity. We will never be free from it. It will control us instead of the other way around.
So, please. Go outside. I know it’s raining, but put on your rubber boots, open your umbrella, and sing in the rain. Be a fool. Smile at people. Eat a banana. Dance. Do something active.
And don’t comment on here. I know writing this post is completely contradictory to everything I’ve just said, but what can one do when they’re sick? Oh, I’ll read a book. You know, with real pages that I can turn.
Peace and embrace unplugged humanity!