The Only Important Thing in Our World Should be Us
It should not be our things, which have become more important than we are.
Before now, I (and many other people) have addressed this problem by talking about technology. This was a mistake. Using this particular word drags in all kinds of connotations, and we end up talking about something bigger that life. Technology, I suspect, has taken the place of God in our minds – without our being aware of it at all.
We need to back off, and get in touch with our basics again. But we cannot do this, because we have lost touch with them. To do this, we have to go back to our beginnings, and recognize our built-in attachment to our things (which easily becomes an addiction).
This is not easy, because we are such clever devils. We have invented language, for example, which is both a curse and a blessing. We have invented music, and all kinds of social activities associated with it, such as dancing. And most important of all – we have invented greed and power, which are now embodied in the world of business – which has taken the place of religion.
It is not easy to separate our precious things from this matrix – but this is exactly what we have to do. Consider them by themselves, unattached to everything else. For example, consider the car. This has become something we cannot resist because we did not carefully note how it was affecting us. We just fell in love with it, and did whatever it demanded.
That last sentence is important – it indicates that our extensions (to use McLuhan’s term) rule us, instead of us ruling them. Every step of the way we should have been asking ourselves “How is this affecting us?” But we never thought to ask that, and kept adding technology on top of technology until we were lost to sight. At the time, we didn’t think about this, but felt we had to.
Probably most would agree with my line of reasoning here – but that only shows the limitations of reason. Our emotions easily override our reason. This is where the rubber hits the road, to use a modern metaphor. This is where our unconscious drives take over.
Does this mean we are doomed? Probably, but not absolutely. There is nothing set in concrete about our future. The cards may be stacked against us – but there are always wild cards in the deck.
This in continued on Using the Computer to Empower Our Minds.