But not because of technology
We are about to talk about change. Change in what it means to be human. Change that results from technology that can seem rampant and out of control in nearly every aspect of our lives. Change which requires us to examine our humanness and humanity. While technology is usually involved, it is not always the main cause. Wars and natural disasters come to mind. In both books we shall discuss change.
I have been working on the books for some years. It is the constant editing that has held me up from publishing. The purpose for writing the books has been to mobilize us all to explore and examine our lives in this rapidly changing world of technology and what it means for us to be human beings in the midst of all this technology.
I had gone from being an eager proponent of technology to being one who realized that we need to question technology and the technology companies—just as we expect our professional media outlets to question our governments for us. If we don’t, they have carte blanche to do as they wish, and that I fear, may be the state we are in. They can have the ability to track, trace, surveil, steal our private data and information, and to basically peer into every corner and aspect of our lives—stripping away our privacy, and controlling and manipulating our lives. That is only the beginning!
While I was editing my books of warnings, suddenly the world changed overnight. I awoke to discover a threat that was beginning to drench the world like a tsunami. A new virus was emerging in China and there seemed to be quite a fuss about it. At first, I wondered exactly what all the fuss was about. In following days and weeks I witnessed and experienced a shuttering of the entire world. Shuttering was a new word to me, at least I had never paid any attention to it before. The real world was closing up.
They were calling it a pandemic. I went into research mode to get familiar with that which was dominating the news and the world at an ever growing pace. The Coronavirus, or SARS-CoV-2, commonly dubbed COVID-19, which is actually the illness caused by the virus, is a new virus with stealth abilities. What do you know, a stealth virus for a super technological age and a stealth Technojungle! What’s more, the primary up front weapon in this new combat is not tech related at all, it is to stay home and self-isolate, or self-quarantine if you may be a carrier. You can only go out for a short walk or to attempt to obtain suddenly hard to get necessities.
Social distancing, or physical distancing, has become the most common buzzword in our daily vocabulary. We have to keep two meters away from anyone not in our household.
Frontline workers on the battlefield include medical staff and those who provide the necessities of life, such as groceries. To these people a 7 o’clock nightly clamour rings out across the city in an untechnological banging of pots and pans, along with other noise making utensils, whistles and human hollers. It’s much like New Years Eve every evening.
People everywhere are wearing face masks which have left Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in short supply to frontline medical workers. Suddenly everyone is desperate for, and knows what is, an N95 respirator or face mask. Hoarders buy up supplies of necessities, including PPEs, hand sanitizers, disinfectants, etc.… and toilet paper. What! Toilet paper? Everything is difficult to obtain when out for our once-a-week one store only shopping trip. When you find a necessity, it’s buy all you can, if there are no restrictions in place. Stores have senior’s hours and everybody must line up two meters apart; only a few people are allowed in a store at a time.
It was a panic!
So you probably get a bit of the picture and you probably have lived through this pandemic anyway. But what has the pandemic got to do with these books?
All of a sudden the world finds that most of the technologies discussed in this book have become lifelines to the outside world. Our devices keep us informed and connected to our friends and relatives.
When I set out years ago, I was endeavouring to have readers become more aware the impacts of technology on being human beings. To be aware of the tracking, tracing, surveillance, theft of their private data and information, and the lack of privacy in their lives, along with other potential dangers of living in a technology dominated world. The pandemic shifted things as I never expected. How can I argue that we should slow down and understand how these technologies that pervade our lives are affecting us in being human beings when the technologies have become ever more important and are demonstrating themselves to be indispensable during the pandemic?
In some ways I feel we have been swept away. Away in some convenient twist of our arms. Away to leap into living deeper in this technological world. Away giving even more power to those who control technologies. Away into needing technology to assist us through difficult times, if not desperate times. There are definitely positives to technology assisting us. But there are also downsides. Certainly the issues I focus on in these books are even more critical and we should still take care when we can.
I am amazed at how some musicians are able to use everything from a built in webcam on their computer, to a home audio studio to collaborate with others to make virtual recordings. In any recording setting, getting sound balance and other aspects of performing music right are difficult and require expertise. I imagine doing it with remote connections must be extremely difficult. I’ve seen choirs performing with each singer in a separate box on my screen as they sing from their home, and the sound is excellent. There are concerts done with performers all over the world. The logistics are baffling to me. Yet it is done and it is in so many way humanizing as we feel connected. Without the curtain of this pandemic, would we feel so connected by these technologies? It is far less engaging and humanizing than being there live. Still, the pandemic makes it seem so wonderful.
I have two people working from home and one is also in university. They have meetings online and collaborate on projects everyday. They work in a variety of places in the house, sometimes even in bed, or while eating a meal. When break time comes they go for a run or indulge in weightlifting in the driveway gym set up everyday. My wife does webinars and shops online, jumping from one website to another just as she used to go from store to store as a busy bee to flowers. I know, I am the driver and the sampler. She shops, I sample. You must understand, my wife is what I would call a professional shopper having grown up in a general store. She loves to hop from store to store. Now she does it online, but it is a struggle because she is developing tech-savvy skills and she often ends up just phoning. Her visits to a real store often amount to nerve wracking escapades with a possible meltdown on the way home.
One point I should make is that it is difficult to know what is accurate information. Rumours spread along with disinformation. Everybody has the capability of giving advice that spreads online like wildfire, even the experts change their minds about things like wearing a face mask. More than ever it is difficult to determine what is true and accurate, as even the mainstream can be seem questionable.
In this surreal dreamlike new pandemic world, the economy has been allowed to collapse as businesses close. After many long weeks of government handouts and bailouts, there is talk of reopening. Many people are becoming mentally stressed. Domestic violence is on the rise. Summer is on the way. Businesses are on the verge of dying. But it seems to me this pandemic has benefited the technology companies. Technology comes out ahead as if by some design.
We are being told that this is the new normal, at least until well after a vaccine has been developed. That we should expect a second and even a third wave of the virus. I wonder though if this is a new normal for living even more online and less face-to-face. Will the fear of being close to each other even disappear someday? Will we simply replace our human personal encounters with living virtually in our technobubbles where we are safe from infection? Will we face unimaginable virtual infections? Will people revolt over the disruption, control and manipulation of their lives? What does all this mean for our humanness and humanity?
I’m watching closely because this is like a world war, and world wars change the world and the people. Our enemy is invisible and cunning. Knowing a pandemic can happen at any time may lead us to cautious living and deeper reliance on and acceptance of more technology, and even more powerful technology corporations running our lives.
Experts tell us that nothing like this pandemic has happened since World War II. That war ushered in the Computer Age, the Nuclear Age, the Space Age, and spawned a plethora of other technologies like Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) which most of us carry around in our purses and wallets.
Hold on! It seems the COVID confinement has caused many stresses. People are exhibiting fatigue over socializing online. They venture out against the guidelines of experts. As Summer approaches, restrictions are being lifted to allow people some freedom, but mostly to get economies revived somewhat.
An African American black man was killed by a police officer, as the world watched, igniting racial tensions around the world buried for decades. The tensions echoed around the world with violent protests ignoring the pandemic altogether and causing further disruption and domination of the daily news. The world is obviously on edge.
There is a future, but for most people it is an unexpected one with changes that pale considerably to anything seen before. We are watching, experiencing, and living it as it unfolds and we can’t sleep through it, we must be awake and aware.
I hope this book can help you to understand how your humanness and humanity are impacted by technology and even the pandemic. We do need to proceed with awareness and caution. The future depends on us being human beings and living in a world of technology.