I wonder if loneliness felt all the more encompassing before the benefit of modern technology? More than it does now?
Or if those same communicative possibilities at present day have enabled another but no less significant kind of loneliness?
Most likely the last one. Spike Jonze’s “Her” certainly showed a future dealing with those exact matters. A scaringly close and all too realistic future – if it is not already here in some form: Our ‘personal’ computers, tailor-made operating systems, i-this and i-that in every product title. People looking down at the face of their screen rather than up at the faces of the people around them.
And I’m right there among them. Perhaps not with my phone glued to my hand (I rarely use it in public, actually), but to my computer, interacting more with it than with any person I know. I’m close to addicted; getting frustrated when I cannot get to my computer, yet briefly liberated when I’m forced away from it (on vacations etc.) and yet again relieved when I return home to it. Almost as if it was a toxic relationship; not quite love nor hate nor both, but simply an addiction. I’m sure I could manage a ‘rehab’ but I’m not all for it either. And I’m far from the only one. Whether that addiction is good or bad is still vehemently debated, but it does little to the fact that we are all but fully connected to/immersed with our technology, the digital sphere and the Internet in practically every corner of society.
How often has our generation not asked ourselves the question: “What did we/I do before the Internet?”
Initially, we laugh it off as a joke, but there’s something eerily nagging in that question still, isn’t there?
Because if we honestly cannot remember the daily life of a society before our fusion with (online) technology on this scale, what does that tell us of that society and the one we have now – or the one to come?
I do not have the answer – simply because I keep asking this myself. In some ways it becomes closely related to Philip K. Dick and Ridley Scott’s ambiguous questions surrounding replicants in the end of “Blade Runner”: In this close fusion, what is human and what is robot? And what do we even define as human?
That was in the ’80s, seen through a dystopian, futuristic view. Today we could argue we already live in a transhuman world. I’ll recommend reading Donna Haraway’s insanely interesting and relevant essay A Cyborg Manifesto to expand on this thought.