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Technology Addiction and Virtual Reality

By Charles Sullivan

November 22, 2010
"
Information Clearing House" -- - -It will be difficult, if not impossible, to bring the U.S. back from the brink of social and economic collapse upon which it is so precariously perched. Our collective inertia is carrying us to the edge of the abyss. Changing course will require a change of consciousness, an awakening. Critical mass must be reached, but we have not even begun contemplating making that immense journey. We should have started long ago. Now it may be too late for us.

The American people are brainwashed by prolonged exposure to the corporate media, particularly television, which has a financial stake in keeping them propagandized and in a stupor. The religion of America is buying and selling. Capital is God and everyone and everything is subservient to it. Corporations are people. Money is free speech. Virtual reality has replaced actual reality.

With the proliferation of technological devices and the widespread use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, people are receding deeper into catacombs of fantasy. Irreplaceable social skills are being lost in the process. Text messaging is no substitute for physical human contact. The touching of human lips and a furtive glance is more pregnant with possibility than a series of x’s and o’s sent over an IPhone. The psychological development of a healthy human being requires personal contact and social interaction.

Despite its potential use as a tool for social networking, the collective use of technology has had the opposite effect by trivializing conversation and by diminishing social interaction. People are more enamored with the technology than the quality of the communication. They are spending huge sums of money on the latest technology in order to avoid the stigma of “phone shame,” when older technology will suffice or personal contact is required. Monotonous chit chat is no substitute for real conversation about the important issues that affect us all.

As technology gains primacy, people are forgetting how to communicate with one another. We no longer know how to live in the natural world. The spiritual umbilical that connects us to the earth and promotes a sense of belonging to the greater biological community was severed by technology. As a result, technological Homo sapiens are careening out of control; they are spiritually and psychologically isolated from one another and from universal consciousness.

Due in part to our fascination with technological innovation, our perception of reality is either distorted or lost. We are wandering aimlessly toward oblivion, text messaging and chit-chatting like mechanical drones seeking to extract meaning from a world where the laws of physics do not apply and anything is possible, up to and including the impossible. That is the appeal of virtual reality: you can believe anything you want and pretend that it is true. We are attempting to suck nutriment from a block of styrofoam. We are dying inside.

Cell phones, IPods, Blackberries, Androids, high definition television, and computer games are little more than expensive toys that distract us from living authentic lives. Like pornography, electronic devices isolate people and prevent them from forming meaningful social networks that might promote revolutionary ideas.

Globally, perhaps more than a billion people are disconnected from one another by their addiction to technologies that keep them subservient to corporate power. The manner in which these ubiquitous devices are used tends to divide rather than unite people. Their use has done little to raise public consciousness or to produce better, more engaged citizens. Our infatuation with technology is working against collective awakening and the long term survival of the species. As Thoreau lamented long ago, “men have become the tools of their tools.” But who reads Thoreau nowadays? Reading great literature is such a quaint idea, a remnant of a bygone era. Who needs literacy when you can buy an IPhone or a really cool MP3 player? We do.

Technological innovation and capitalism go hand in hand. Capitalism fosters the conquest of nature and stimulates superfluous consumption and waste. The raw materials of industry and technology are taken from the earth, annihilating indigenous populations and promoting colonization. Driven by a philosophy of endless expansion, the ideology of the cancer cell, population growth is encouraged in order to increase the supply of consumers, as well as provide cannon fodder for the frequent military incursions that are inherent to capitalism.

Saturation advertising creates artificial wants and promotes usury lending. It leads to debt peonage that diminishes personal sovereignty while simultaneously promoting dependency on gratuitous goods and services. Militarism and occupation is a prominent feature of capitalism, as well as the dehumanization of the work force. These activities have enormous impact on the biosphere and on human relations.

The pervasive addiction to complex technology has led to the evolution of a passive consumer culture that is incapable of acting in its own self-interest. It has rewired the human brain and significantly reduced attention spans. As a result, skills such as reading and writing are diminishing. Intricate social interaction is on the wane. People are becoming increasingly withdrawn and isolated from their neighbors and from their communities. They are alienated from nature. People inhabit virtual worlds because they no longer possess the psychological capacity, spiritual fortitude, and social skills required to live authentically in the actual world.

We Americans are being entertained to death. Having lost our visceral connection to nature, we can no longer differentiate between the real and the artificial. We think that we can believe whatever we want, regardless of the facts, and that ignorance will somehow protect us from the consequences of false consciousness. We ignore the exponential effect of witlessness at our own peril.

Behaving as if the laws of physics do not apply to the actual world does not bode well for our long term survival. We choose to live with our heads up our asses rejecting reality because it is too complex for us to comprehend. Being informed makes us too uncomfortable. Knowledge and understanding are too burdensome. Possessing them would require us to live better and simpler lives, and that requires too much effort. We do not crave a life of meaning and purpose but a life of ease stretched out on the sofa drinking beer, eating cheese and watching TV.

Thus we choose entertainment to blunt our senses and to suppress true consciousness from awakening. Our lives are predicated upon speed and laced with anxiety. Life is a blur mimicking the speed of electrons around a nucleus. The computer microchip and the motherboard is a microcosm of our cities and our harried lives of not so quiet desperation.

Life passes with little awareness. Everyone is in a hurry but no one is going anywhere. We are speeding up when we should be slowing down to notice the world around and within us. We vainly attempt to fill our empty lives with toys and electronic contraptions in an attempt to find a semblance of meaning in our hollowed-out existence.

The technological age has created a race of human beings that are no longer equipped to live in nature. Thus we destroy the very biosphere that is the source of all life. We exist as if there are no consequences to what we do. Cause and effect may not apply in the virtual worlds we create for ourselves, but it is a governing principle in nature. Technology is no substitute for carrying capacity.

Unable or unwilling to comprehend the implication of events such as the false flag operations of 9-11 or the problematic issue of global climate change, we retreat deeper into fantasy. Electronic technology is the opiate of the masses. Taken to excess, technology is a form of escapism no less destructive than the hallucinatory world created by heavy-duty recreational drugs or by hardcore pornography. Fantasy does not provide us the means of living an authentic life in the midst of nature. Moreover, it has not produced a worthwhile culture of close-knit communities based upon common need with high regard for the public welfare and planetary health.

We cannot confront the injustice of social and economic disparity, militarism, colonialism, gluttonous consumption, or the mass extinction of flora and fauna, until we acknowledge their existence. This requires that we live in the actual world with its stupendous biodiversity and complexity. It requires us to open our eyes and our minds to the possibilities of the actual world. We must strive to raise our own true consciousness and that of the people around us. This requires real contact between real people, and it entails initiating meaningful dialog. We must learn to be fully present in our own lives.

Charles Sullivan is a photographer, free lance writer and social activist residing somewhere in the hinterland of West Virginia.

   
 

 

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