Monthly Archives: February 2012

On Technology, and Other Mechanized Thoughts

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our societal dependence on technology for of a few reasons: 

A) We had a discussion in my Sex, Gender and Nature class about Donna Haraway’s Cyborg Theory (which caused me to interrupt the class discussion with a demonic (and unapologetic) sound that escaped my mouth when I experienced a full body chill from sheer terror).

B) I learned about a new TV series premiering on February 21st entitled Operation Unplugged – a show where they take 8 technology-dependent Canadian citizens and attempt to “unplug” them by throwing them into the middle of the woods or something of that sort.

C) I reflected on a particular experience I had where I was “unplugged” for an extended period of time, in order to win a contest from Hopscotch the Globe to see the premiere of said TV show.

4) I read this article.

D) I have been prospecting jobs in the Yukon so I can travel back this summer, and applied for one in Beaver Creek, YT – which is pretty freaking isolated and I keep asking myself what the crap I’m going to do with myself if I happen to go there this summer.

Now, folks, don’t get me wrong – this stuff isn’t news to me. I have spent the past 5 years in a University program designed to scare the crap out of you and make you leave all your earthly possessions behind… right before you run away to a remote piece of land, build a bomb shelter and attempt to sustain yourself off of “shit you find” for the rest of your life. I don’t know how many times I’ve had the technology discussion that makes almost every student fear for their future… but the issue I’m coming to terms with now is that they have only remained thoughts and fears the entire time I have been in school.

As young children, we are inclined to explore the intricacies right underneath our feet – the tiny, messy and unique characteristics of the earth below us beg for us to acknowledge the small and complex worlds that we co-exist with every day. As we grow older, we lose that sense of discovery and turn to a much “cleaner” method of exploration. I remember an excerpt from a book I read earlier this semester called The Geography of Childhood by Gary Paul Nabhan and Stephen Trimble  that reads “Adults spend [so much time] scanning the land for picturesque panoramas and scenic overlooks. While the kids [are] on their hands and knees, engaged with what [is] immediately before them, we adults [travel] by abstraction” (Nabhan & Trimble, 1994)

With that being said, my experience as a student in a mainstream educational system has taken the hands-on discovery that is so biologically important to our development as human beings and turned everything into a theory that can be categorized and compartmentalized and other academically pleasing words that I’d love to use (but can’t exactly think of right now). So it is only fair to say that these theories about our dependence on technology and the concept of “unplugging”  have only been theoretically important to me thus far. In my head I have always understood the importance of being “unplugged” –  the majority of our interactions with people are through the internet or text-message and I’m also finding it more and more of a reality that when I’m riding on the subway, nobody is going to look up from their iPhone and say hello (I talk to random strangers a lot, and 90% of the time they probably think I’m crazy). The perceived value of face-to-face human contact is becoming somewhat extinct and it is only now that I have realized that although I do go out of my way to connect with people in person, I don’t actually make an effort to lower my dependence on technology. I’m not as addicted to technology as most people, but I do know that my quality of life would drastically increase if I decided to cut down on my Matrix time… so that’s what I’m going to do. Hopefully this means more beers with friends and perhaps a boost in my metabolism.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Love Nikki

P.S.: As I published this post, I got up to urinate and I forgot that I was wearing headphones, and as I walked away the headphones “unplugged” themselves from the computer. Very metaphorical. I giggled.

P.P.S.: I actually got the chance to go to that premiere, and it was awesome – and hilarious!I highly recommend that you watch it!

Nabhan, G. P., & Trimble, S. (1994). The geography of childhood. Boston, MA: Beacon Press.

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