In the second portions of Paul Virilio’s Open Sky, he continues to discuss technology and the rippling effect it has on our human function in society. Virilio explains a portion of this ripple through “animates” or microscopic pieces of machinery that are used to direct the body and help in disease recovery. Virilio continues to state that given the recent advances in technology, for the first time our next revolution will not revolve around size and shape, but around compact size and efficiency.
Stemming from the idea of compact size, Virilio states that society places a strong emphasis to “miniaturize the world.” This concept gives rise to a life that does not know space or time because it is ruled by the Internet, technology, and quick communication. As he originally mentioned in the first portion of the book, Virilio touches upon the idea of real space vs. real time. Relating this concept to online dating, Virilio emphasizes the full scope that technology has on our daily lives since we let it. He questions if “miniaturizing” technology will benefit us as much as it could hurt us. His idea of animates continues to question exactly how much we should let technology change our function of being.
On Wednesday, October 9th, Furman University hosted Eustace Conrad who is History Channel’s “Mountain Men.” When Conrad was 17 years old, he moved out of his parents suburban home and into the forest in North Carolina. He owns 1,000 acres of land in Boone, N.C. and lives a sustainable life of hunting, gathering, and self-sufficiency. At this lecture, Conrad stated
We as people are the most disconnected. In this time when your cell phone and advertisements say you will be more connected than ever before, I call that bull. There will always be a disconnect between the man and the world. That’s where we have been headed for centuries now. We need to get perspective.
This quote I believe is exceptionally applicable to Virilio’s main takeaway from this portion of the book. Virilio brings up the concern of technology’s negative consequences on our human experience because we get lost in the vast swarm of mass communication and technology. This is the disconnect Conrad is speaking about. We do not know a world where we can step away from all outside influences and find the purpose, meaning, or direction of our current course.
However, it goes without saying the majority of the population will not follow in Conrad’s footsteps. Most will not be convinced to forgo modern life, but how should we attempt to remedy the disconnect that has formed between the function of our lives and technology? On the other hand, is the direction society is headed with the progression of technology and mass communication that bad? As we examined, Socrates feared the written word stating it would degrade oral tradition. Yet Socrates did not consider the positive results of written word. Could this mindset be applied to Virilio? Is he simply laying down a blanket statement without considering the great things that can result from technology?