So I enjoyed this insight into the Digital Age in Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other (2011): “We are all cyborgs now” (274, ebook edition). She goes on to explain the assertion, explaining our use of and dependency on various digital gadgets makes us (at least somewhat) cyber-humans or cyborgs. It’s a good point, and she goes on to back up the claim with a number of anecdotes, mainly about people who embrace or willfully are dominated by their gadgets.
It’s a minor-key revelation: As a possessor and user of a laptop, ipad, iphone, and GPS watch (one of my favorite gadgets, great for marathon training), I’m a cyborg. (And I didn’t even mention Furby.) It’s come-out-of-the-closet time. Although I might note my point about digital distraction is mainly a matter of degree: If you spend most of your time in the digital closet, then that’s your home. I hope that fate doesn’t befall me. Here’s a pic of me and my (cyborg) daughter supremely worried about all this, on the beach at St. Augustine, Florida:
And of course that leads us astray, into another, grittier virtual realm where a number of gadgets are aimed at a more active, out-there definition of cyborg. One of the hottest new gadgets is the GoPro camera, which is filming all kinds of hang-gliding, mountain-biking, rock-climbing, skate-boarding, wind-surfing (as well as outdoor-sex, no doubt). I’ve developed a fondness for the dashcam of my new Jetta wagon. It feels like a superior driving experience to hop in the car, put it in reverse (with a manual transmission, the best of both worlds), and watch the dash to make sure there are no delinquent toddlers hanging around my back bumper as I zoom into the street. And I’d love to have (and will probably sooner-than-later snap up) a GoPro, maybe in time for this summer’s river rafting in New Mexico. That’s part of Turkle’s point: We feel superior with the use of these gadgets. And I think she’s right. Not that we necessarily are superior (a harder Level to obtain, that one), but we definitely feel it. I own a Sony Nex-7 camera, a couple years old now, and can say unequivocally that my pictures are superior to the various cameras I’ve shot before, with (until now) my favorites being a classic Nikon FM and a Canon AE-1. The Sony has blown those out of the water. I don’t take a great number of selfies, but I see why this is all the craze. We want a record of our moments, to say we’re here, and don’t we look out-there?