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Re the Internet, McLuhan prophetically warned that modern communications networks would produce what he called “Discarnate Man”–persons set free by technology of their physical limitations to interact.
He feared that the electronic personalities of the future (our present), free to roam about the world, with no bodies to hold responsible would, like H. G. Wells’ Invisible Man, become a force for evil. Similarly Plato, in one his dialogues, maintained that an invisible, disembodied man would be unable to resist the temptation to commit rapes and other crimes he could invisibly get away with. And it is true that, on the Net, people routinely insult each other in the vilest terms who, if they were meeting in person, would be perfectly polite.
I think technology has been missused, but it has never been overused
One of McLuhan’s ideas was also about “Reversal” when one form of media is pushed to its limits, it’s function can reverse creating the opposite effect of what it had previously done. My question is how long can electronic media continue to retribalize us until it reverses into promoting radical individualism?
I find it interesting that a connection was made to Aldous Huxley’s brave new world in this article. He died before PC’s and integrated circuits really took off, so comment about electronic media is totally absent from his work. I wonder if he would feel about the current state of the world.
Many of the descriptions and explanations would also apply if you changed “social media” to “printing press” and set the scene in a different century. The individual psychology of our modern ideology has a lot more to do with the numbness and narcissism that the author observes, compared to the classic ideology of Gutenberg’s time, and the pace of technological change recommends further investigation into scale given that change via *techne* has always appeared to be rapid because, well, there’s always a noticeable change within a generation. The telegraph and the telephone, are another example, or cheap newsprint and the daily press. Notice these all share a common feature in regard to communication. This implies interdividuel effects, and we shouldn’t ignore how the relation of an individual to the society is the most profound relation we have.
As contrevational as it is is really like the views of Ted Kaczynski `industrial society and its future`