The Ubiquity of the Social Network
My scripture this morning is from James S. Hans’ The Question of Value, page 162. This is my third pass through this section, and I am determined to get it down.
I have two criticisms of this guy, the brightest person I know: (1) he doesn’t appreciate the impact of technology – something Lewis Mumford is much better at; and (2) he doesn’t realize that people no longer exist. To be fair, I have a hard time with this last point myself – and keep asking myself: if they are not people, what are they? I cannot come up with a word that satisfies me. It will no doubt take future generations to understand this phenomena - and to name it – if there are still generations around.
It seems to me, to make an extreme simplification, that Computers Have Taken the Place of People . And this should be the realization we should start from.
But we should also make it clear how this technology has affected society in two ways: (1) by integrating all the power structures in the more advanced countries to make local power complexes and (2) integrating all the economies in the world (globalization). The social network has been replaced by the Internet, a technical network. In the process people have disappeared, because they are no longer necessary – or even desirable. It takes some work to dig this out of Hans. The following is an example of his brilliant writing (on page 165):
We are masters of the anxious moment, the aporias of boredom, the never-ending sequence of disappointment and reversal; we have probed the interstices of these orientations like true devotees and pride ourselves on our ability to bear the pain we have engendered and so fully exploited…We make use of them simply because they are an essential aspect of the narcissism through which our values have come to be defined.
Ouch! It is hard for me to admit he is right. But I have a contribution to make too – as I said above.