Nothing but Thought-nology

“Is it a fact—or have I dreamt it—that by means of electricity, the world of matter has become a great nerve, vibrating thousands of miles in a breathless point of time? Rather, the round globe is a vast head, a brain, instinct with intelligence: or shall we say it is itself a thought, nothing but thought, and no longer the substance which we dreamed it.” Hawthorne 1851

The messages we receive through technology are not literally messages they are thoughts transformed into coding, a language of technology that we don’t understand, transmitted to its destination and deciphered or decoded. What we end up reading does not a physical presence.  It has been manipulated, re-energised  re-configured and re-written for the simple purpose of communication. The technologies we use that translate computer communication, act as the “Babel Fish”(Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) ingesting information that is sound, communication and foreign languages and excreting it in a form the host can interpret.

The video call is a perfect example of our change in communication needs and outcomes. You don’t even need to be in the same room as the person you are conversing with and yet you can see that they didn’t sleep well, their morning coffee has dribbled on their collar and that; double bacon stacked size of your head burger, means they definitely dealing with one of their worst hangovers yet. If a picture tells a thousand words then a video chat must deliver a biography.  Since the telegraph our forms of communication have advanced to the point of where aspects are useless, or unnecessary. What was once a necessity in the business world of the 1950’s with the videophone expanding the parameters if the conference through video calls, is now a system used to see a friends expression when they’re told about a wardrobe the caller just bought. Our communication has become so advanced that it almost replicates the real experience. Is our communication through technology hindering our communication in reality? Has it already affected our physical relationships?

Our dis-trust in virtual personal space is dwindling, we are comfortable telling our life stories to strangers online and yet we feel uncomfortable when an old lady strikes up a conversation with us about the weather. Our virtual communication appears to be expanding at alarming speeds and yet we are excluding ourselves from communication when the words have to come out of our own mouths.

In the words of the great Newton 1923, Law III, “for every force there is an equal and opposite reaction”, to win some we must lose some. If our expansion in technological communication is the gain then is our loss the tolerance or will to physical communicate in person?

Hawthorne, H. 1851 “The House of the Seven Gables” The Flight of Two Owls (chp 17) public domain.

Newton 1923, Law III Babel Fish – The Videophone


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