Once I have said this, I must immediately define what an object is. I have two ways of doing this – the first is taken from linguistics, and the second from programming.
A basic sentence has a subject, verb, object structure. The subject does something to an object. The subject is active, the object passive – but both are things, only the verb is active. Buckminster Fuller, who became something of a new age guru back in the Sixties – once proclaimed that he was a verb. And that made sense at the time.
Objects in programming take more explaining – unless you were a programmer in the Eighties and Nineties, when Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) was the rage. Programming styles come and go – with no more logic than the styles in woman’s clothing. Back then, OOP was the thing - and everyone wanted to do it, whether they understood it or not.
Someone should do some in-depth psychoanalysis of this sometime, and figure out what was really going on. But that won’t be done because we were all swept up into something bigger – the boom of the last decade of the last century and the bust of first decade of this one. This has all kinds of names (such as the Dotcom Boom) – but at the time we called it mostly the Internet Boom.
At the time, we felt that the Internet was so powerful it had created a New Economy where everyone would get rich automatically. And part of this, somehow was OOP, There was also Java – which took the programming world by storm. Which incorporated both OOP and the Internet.
This was too much for me – and in 2001 I retired and moved to Costa Rica. I still keep in touch with what is going on in the Software world. And right now I am re-thinking the significance of objects. And realizing that it they were a significant part of what was going on in the 19th and 20th Centuries.
The Industrial Revolution (and there were several of them) were processes in which machines became more and more important. And people became less and less important. And the most important part of this change was our growing inability to understand this.
We were fast becoming objects – things. We no longer existed as humans.
As humans, we were animals – with an important difference. And we were fully aware of this difference – at least in our better moments. But we were losing this awareness.
I will never forget my mother screaming “I’m not an animal!” And indeed she was not. She was a strange being we had no words for – but she acted like a demon.
For the time being, I want to call these people objects – but I also want to note that they are demons. And to be fair, I have to put myself right among them.
Now I must say more about being an object. It is similar to being a machine – but with important differences. It can be programmed – and it can use this programming to interact with other objects. It has no mind of its own – no existence of its own. If it did, it would be destroyed.
The overall structure is familiar enough – a machine. But a machine with programmable components.
Is this anything new? No, it is not terribly new, societies have been acting like machines for a long time. Human machines built the pyramids.
But it is different in a subtle way – the components (objects) are more flexible, and they expect (even want) to be changed frequently. They do not want to have a permanent identity – as people do in more traditional societies.
A cynic will observe that if you peel away all this surface craziness – there are still humans underneath this. And their basic functioning (the reproductive urge, for example) has not changed. Perhaps, but one can also observe that things like the sex drive have also been profoundly altered – and sex objects are common.
We may not have become objects entirely – but we are close to it.