Saturday, November 9, 2013

Distraction: "going through the motions"

Seven of Nine: resistance is not futile
I've a piece in today's Sydney Morning Herald 'News Review' lift-out, 'Distraction - blame the mind, not the machines'.

I'm talking about our tendency to demonise machines for our very human failings. A sample:
[T]he fight against distraction is not a struggle against a cyborg or supercomputer - well, not yet - but a battle to identify what's important to us, and to hang on to it. But what is important? This is the riddle of existence, and there is no one answer. It depends who, what and where we are, and part of living a free life is working this out. This puzzle is ancient, and goes hand in hand with humanity itself: we are a continuing question for ourselves. 
The essential thing is to be mindful of where we give our hours, vitality and wherewithal, in case we lose this very freedom. A laptop can be for jittery browsing, or careful expression. A friend can be for honest confession or off-the-shelf gossip. An artwork can challenge our fantasies or blithely confirm them. In each case, we can have more or less clarity, strength and virtue; more or less liberty. 
Perhaps the most important thing is to keep questioning. If machines are symbols of evil, it is not simply because of their firepower, but because they are automatic. They do not interrogate ideas, perceptions or emotions; they do not stop to ask ''why'''. The ultimate image of distraction is not a phone or video game, but the mind of an ordinary human being who is simply going through the motions; for whom the world just ''is''. 
Resistance is not futile.

No comments: