It's Technology All the Way Down

To be human is to be a user (and maker and remaker) of technology.

spear.jpg

Jezebel's Lindy West makes a profound point about the desire to fix a certain technological era as the "natural" one. She also makes it in the funniest way possible:

Humanity isn't static--you can't just be okay with all development up until the invention of the sarong, and then declare all post-sarong technology to be "unnatural." Sure, cavemen didn't have shoes. Until they invented fucking shoes! (You know what else they didn't have? Discarded hypodermic needles. Broken glass. Used condoms.) They also didn't have antibiotics, refrigeration, written languages, wheels, patchouli, the internet, and NOT LIVING IN A ROCK WITH A HOLE IN IT. But I don't see anyone giving any of that up in the name of "health." Hey, why not install a live gibbon in your fridge so you have to fight it to get to your bison jerky? Just like nature!

I think people should (and cannot help but) shape the technologies that they use. But I despise the easy recourse to "natural" that some technology opponents want to make. Because the alternative to 21st century technology is not "nature" but some other technologically-mediated reality. Tired of staring at a computer all day? Well, go back a 100 years and you'd have been working in a grueling factory all day. Go back another century and you'd have been tending a field all day. Go back 500 years and more than half of your children would have died before the age of five. And yet you'd *still* be using all kinds of humanmade objects and systems. As we read yesterday, humans may have been deploying fire for 1 MILLION YEARS. No matter how far back you go, you'll find us shaping our environment. It is technology all the way down.

But that realization is a good thing. Rather than misdirecting our efforts pursuing an impossible and hazy dream of the natural, we can fight to reshape our tools to align with our social goals, realizing that part of what it is to be human is to use, make, and remake tools.


Presented by

Saving the Bees

Honeybees contribute more than $15 billion to the U.S. economy. A short documentary considers how desperate beekeepers are trying to keep their hives alive.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In