Sunday, April 29, 2007

Killing the "present", one remote control at a time...

This is for Group B, on The Third Interval.

In the article The Third Interval, Paul Virillio expresses concern over increased use of and dependence on technology. He claims that human beings are becoming slaves to technology and that social interaction amongst each other has been dissipating because of it. We become immobile as we kill what Virillio calls "present time" by isolating it and no longer applying it to our "concrete presence". In other words, for example, whenever we see something or someone that is clearly on the other side of the country through, say, television or video conferencing, we are eliminating "present time" because we are watching what is happening live on the screen. We are being connected to the other side, we are here and there at the same time; we are telepresent. Virillio even makes the stunning claim that this increase in dependence leads to more single-parent families, that number of family units is decreasing because of it.

Although there may seem to be some truth in his argument, I completely disagree with it. Virillio seems to be creating these arguments without much proof, except for the fact that a human being becomes more of a couch potato whenever they pick up the remote and channel surf. At least, that was the impression I received. Indeed, there is a growing dependency on technology, especially now that people are equipped with mp3 players, cell phones, and laptops, but that does not necessarily mean that people have become less active or less social. Sure, there may be some who sit at home for a few hours and surf through the Internet, but they usually venture into the outside world and join their friends for lunch. People take walks. The world is not barren! Virillio also fails to mention the power of fast correspondence and communication through the use of the Internet, which can be highly beneficial when the need persists.

As for the breaking up of the family home, there are definitely numerous reasons as to why there are more single-parent families, which Virillio also neglects. Once again he provides no evidence for his wild claim that it has little to do with "liberation of values" and is instead due to the expansion of the urban areas.



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