Monday, June 29, 2009

iPods Are Not Cylons

While cleverly defending copyright law, identifying those against it as having a "bias to the collective," Mark Helprin on this week's EconTalk falls victim to his own collectivist leanings. He argues that many people succumb to "perverse adaptation." People adapt to technology instead of technology adapting to them. Helprin invokes images of commuters staring at their blackberries and consumers demanding things faster and faster as examples.
Human beings require time for reflection...We require stillness and the ability to absorb things rather than just being hooked up to a machine and made into bundles of tropisms. [Emphasis added]
But those who don't are not dead. We do not require these things. We may require them to accomplish certain goals, goals Helprin places high value on, but we do not require them in the absolute sense. We choose to not do them. Technology does not leap in our lap and hook into us like a drone from the Matrix. Those people who Helprin paints as so grey are people who always wanted to move faster; technology simply allows them to do it. It's not that technology has enslaved us. Helprin simply believes that if people don't like the same things he does, there's something wrong with them. Such an attitude is the hallmark of the collective mindset.

1 comment:

Arthor Bearing said...

Read The Technological Society by Jaques Ellul, humans are forced to adapt themselves to society or suffer irrelevance. And technology isn't as benign or as voluntary as you assume here; it has a randomly-distributed reward pattern characteristic of many addictions (consider gambling) which leaves people checking and re-checking their emails and social networking sites during time they could be relaxing and reflecting.

Technoholics suffer from a lack of slowly-forming creative thought, so otherwise very imaginative people are left incomplete like a tree which has had one of its principle branches lopped off. Pointing out this problem does not make one a collectivist.