Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

No boundaries?

MissArcher2's picture

 One of my favorite family stories happened last Easter, when my Mom was taking pictures of me and all my cousins outside. My youngest cousin, about two and walking but barely speaking at the time, kept breaking away from the group between shots and hanging on my mom's arms. No one could figure out what she wanted until my mom put the camera down for a minute and my little cousin immediately started looking at the pictures. My mom couldn't stop marveling about the idea that someone so young already understood this technology, having only mastered digital photography very recently herself.

Clearly, technology is already a seamless part of our lives, and so I have an easy time understanding Clark's notion of cyborgs and Haraway's anti-categorical thesis--that the boundaries between human and animal, organism and machine, and physical and non-physical are blurring, deteriorating, and we are all moving towards unity with technology. But Clark's push to embrace rather than resist this movement doesn't sit well with me. I know that I personally resist some technology (in theory if not in practice) and that I feel the need to separate myself--and others--from technology and machines. I don't want to be a cyborg. 

I don't want to be a cyborg--and yet I wear contact lenses daily, turn to my phone first thing when I wake up each morning, rely on my laptop for schoolwork (and copious amounts of Hulu and Netflix), and document all my weekend adventures on Facebook with digital photos. How can I, so constantly connected, claim that I resist cyborg-ism in any way at all? Because I can turn it off. I don't, not often, but I can leave my phone in my room during dinner with my family and decline to look up who won the Superbowl in 1983 when the debate becomes heated (it just took me 10 seconds to find out it was the Redskins). But if we broaden the definition of technology to include pens, lights, and running water, then I'd find myself sitting alone in the dark, doing nothing. Is it even possible to exclude technology from our lives? What makes reading or cooking a more worthwhile activity than watching movies or clicking around online? 

For me, the answer lies in Clark's "sample journal" in which he lays out for his readers all the ways in which technology has the potential to enhance our existence. The passage about playing golf really resonated with me, as I found myself wondering what the point of the game is if special grips, arms, and computers allow players to get a hole-in-one on every single shot. In Clark's world, that's not just a possibility but an inevitability. Is there joy or stimulation in guaranteed success? In order to live fulfilled lives, people need exercise, both mental and physical. 

We like the idea of machines because they, unlike humans and animals, have the potential to be perfect. We like the idea of cyborgs because we think that if we can merge with technology just enough to blur which is which, we can become perfect too.

Technology is a good thing, I don't dispute that. I enjoy the conveniences that innovations allow me. But I remain adamant that we must stay separate from machines, because if we allow ourselves to become cyborgs, they will become the active participant and we the passive one. We will cease to use them to enhance our experiences as human beings--an existence that I believe is a valid one, just the way it is. 



Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
14 + 1 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.