Let me tell you whats up.

What if the most valued product/service in the world became something you didn’t use or had foreseen any use for yourself. That’s the first thought that came to my mind, when I heard that Facebook had bought Whatsapp, a cross platform instant messaging service*(thats how Wikipedia described it), for a whopping $19 billion. The fact that I didn’t use this particular “Mobile App”, made me question my own importance and relevance as a contributor to the world economy. I thought that I must have passed my sell by date as a potential target, or revenue creator for the corporations, and my need to exist was surely in question. My insecurity in regards to this situation was further justified, when I came to understand that the prevailing reason for this purchase was, that Facebook became worried about losing its younger user base. In danger of being deemed old & worthless, I downloaded Whatsapp, but it didn’t make me feel, any younger or any more valuable.

Setting aside my personal anxieties, and looking at this from a more general perspective, it worth considering how this purchase in the larger scheme of technological evolution, would affect humanity as a whole, and the way we continue to communicate in the future. I will try and see if I can hazard a guess.

Taking Marshall McLuhan’s statement as the basis from which to proceed, the idea that “technology is an extension of human organism, it faculties and behaviour”, it could be possible to foresee, how current capacities offered by technology, will continue to extend, progress, and evolve further in the future.

 “During the mechanical ages we had extended our bodies in space. Today, after more than a century of electronic technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned. Rapidly, we approach the final phase of the extensions of man -the technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative process will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society, much as we have already extended our senses and our nerves by the various media” – McLuhan, 1966, p. 19

The idea stated by Marshall McLuhan is most eloquently portrayed in the 1968, movie, “2001: A Space Odyssey” by Stanley Kubrick. Especially in the clip below, which is from the start of the movie, depicting the dawn of man, and the moment apes began to use tools, which in turn, culminated in the most crucial turning point in the human development, shifting the balance of power in favor of  human, as well as within the human species themselves.

In the clip, a bone becomes a physical extension of the arm, which gets thrown in the air, and ultimately jump cuts to show a space ship, which looks morphologically very similar. The idea being portrayed could very well be, that since the dawn of man, human primordial instinct had been to reach for the stars, and extend himself into space, by any means.

“Only the creatures who dared to move from the sea to the hostile, alien land were able to develop intelligence. Now that this intelligence is about to face a still greater challenge, it may be that this beautiful Earth of ours is no more than a brief resting place between the sea of salt and the sea of stars. Now we must venture forth.” – Arthur C. Clarke. (Extract taken from Roadmap to interstellar flight by K.F. Long)

Arthur C Clarke who wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey, the book from which the movie was based, explored in majority of his other books, the concept of human evolution, advancing us into space, freeing us from our physical existence. He believed that the whole evolutionary process leads us to the far reaches of space, from the first living organism formed at central core of our planet, which then swam at the bottom of our oceans, before coming onto the land, crawling on all fours, until it lifted itself up, and hoisted its mind above the rest of its body, compelling it to look upwards from this world to another.

Man must rise above the Earth—to the top of the atmosphere and beyond—for only thus will he fully understand the world in which he lives. – Socrates

The whole of human existence and evolution seemed in a sense a way towards extending our physical and mental faculties, until we eventually render our material self obsolete, in order that we may break free from our physical state, into a transcendence disembodied collective state of our consciousness

Social networking services, we can assume, are as McLuhan considers, extensions of our cognitive functions, at the very cusp of discovering this very new frontier in human consciousness, more amplified, pronounced and unified, then we could have ever imagined individually. To illustrate this, I have tried to visualize it, through different stages of technological innovation in communication.

trace of manA4

Download A3 Poster

Men were migratory animals, but at one point in time, we stopped, and settled, establishing roots, that bound us geo-politically. With the invention of the Internet and Cellular mobile phones, we were able to recommence our nomadic existence, i.e. to free ourselves from the roots that restrained our feet to the ground and become mobile beings once again. Taking this as the basis from which to start, it is possible to see how we have continued to extend ourselves further above the ground and beyond, especially with the growth and usage of social networking sites as the most popular mediums of current human extensions.

Twitter asked us “What’s happening now?”, allowing us to communicate and share information in regards to situations happenings around our immediate environment. Facebook, went even further, and asked us, “What’s on your minds?” allowing us to articulate and share heretofore internalized thoughts, feelings and emotions, confession of sort. Later on, we found out, unbeknown to us, (well the majority of people who skipped the security settings when they set up the account), that all these individual thoughts, feelings, emotions, have been churned, measured and evaluated, to guide and help us be better consumers, so that we can think, and feel better. A cloud of information has formed above humanity, which we will totally depend and put faith upon to guide us to an immortal existence. One day this omnipotent entity, which we have created collectively, will tell us, “What should be on our mind”, and “what should be happening now”, hence we need not update our status, but sit back and submit to it almighty power. I will end this with an extract from the book “City and the Stars” written in 1956 by Arthur C. Clarke; who seem to have foreseen this end for us:

“For centuries the energy of matter had run the world until it too had been superseded, and with each change the old machines were forgotten and new ones took their place. Very slowly, over thousands of years, the ideal of the perfect machine was approached – that ideal which had once been a dream, then a distant prospect, and at last reality: No machine may contain any moving parts. Here was the ultimate expression of that ideal. Its achievement had taken Man perhaps a hundred million years, and in the moment of his triumph he had turned his back upon the machine forever. It had reached finality, and thenceforth could sustain itself eternally while serving him” – Taken from page 90, City and the Stars by Arthur C Clarke.

Comments

  1. Pingback: » Let me tell you whats up. ://mooblog

  2. “FREEMAN: As the world becomes more technically efficient, it seems increasingly necessary for people to behave communally and collectively, now do you think it’s possible that the highest development of man may be to submerge his own individuality in a kind of collective consciousness?

    JUNG: That’s hardly possible. I think there will be a reaction — a reaction will set in against this communal dissociation. You know, man doesn’t stand forever, his nullification. Once, there will be a reaction, and I see it setting in, you know, when I think of my patients, they all seek their own existence and to assure their existence against that complete atomization into nothingness or into meaninglessness. Man cannot stand a meaningless life.”

    Calr Jung – Face to Face (BBC 1059) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTBs-2cloEI

    via http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2013/07/26/carl-jung-bbc-face-to-face/?utm_content=buffer461d5&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

  3. JUNG never lived to see how man would fulfill his/her search for immortality. Individuality and Narcissism that Jung speaks of, (— they all seek their own existence and assure their existence against complete atomization—), motivates the creation of the collective conscious itself – the Social Network. Death is its self a consciousness, meaning the more people are aware of I (me), the less likely I will die, or the less people know about I the more likely I am already dead. But then we already know ourselves individually as “i”
    Until Facebook put a little tombstone at the end of my timeline (like the one they have of a baby symbolizing my birth) I will continue to exist,

  4. Jung’s answer to that question may not be just about the time he was in; the same could be said quite relevantly now or 2000 years ago or later. why else would the question be posed by host? or why do you be write about the collective conscious via social media in your own words on your website?

  5. Religion used artifices, simulations, and earthly physical senses, as a mean to make people come together as one. There is an innate need to connect in oneness, in Ummah. Internet fulfills this need virtually and absolutely, just like Architecture did physically and partially, previously. Jung say “its hardly possible”. I see it is possible, its happening and its inevitable. Hence the point i am trying to make in previous 2 blog entry

  6. “The servant can pattern himself on the master — and so he did when God was master and Man His servant creating works in His glory — but the machine is the servant of man, and to pattern one’s function on the machine provides no measure of dignity. The machine is useful, the system in terms of which the machines gain their use is efficient, but what is man?”

    http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/page/2/

  7. Its a nice thought if you like to continue to believe god created you. Finally Technology has enabled man to understand otherwise, that we create everything in our own image, even God, and it is our own choice to be it’s master, it’s servant, or both. In the end, i feel, it’s about us individually choosing to be subservient to our collective conscious, and not to be drag down by our own dignity and ego.

  8. I cant understand why one has to be dragged down to acknowledge ego and dignity. Isn’t one part of a collective conscious because of acceptance and acknowledgement of ego? Would you please share your thought on these two sides of the same journey?

  9. “What people today do of fear of irrational elements in themselves and in other people is to put tools and mechanisms between themselves and the unconscious world. This protects them from being grasped by the the frightening and threatening aspects of irrational experience. I am saying nothing whatever, I am sure it will be understood, against technology or mechanics in themselves. What I am saying is that danger always exists that our technology will serve as a buffer between us and nature, a block between us and the deeper dimensions of our experience. Tools and techniques ought to be an extension of consciousness, but they can just as easily be a protection against consciousness. […] This means that technology can be clung to, believed in, and depended on far beyond its legitimate sphere, since it also serves as a defense against our fears of irrational phenomena. Thus the very success of technological creativity […] is a threat to its own existence.” Rollo May, The Courage to Create

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