Technopoly and You
I have to admit, I am a little torn about what I feel in regards to Neil Postman's ideas on technopoly. Not to disregard the ideas that Mr. Postman has so introspectively brought to the table. First, to define technopoly: A societies ever-constant dependance on technology and its advance in hopes that new marvels will lead to a better life - this is at least what I have derived from Postmans article. Users of technology often become the used by technology, most often unwillingly and unknowingly. For example a persons dependance upon such items as cell phones (for which I somehow feel it important to share my dire hatred for), televisions, even the macrocosm that is the internet, can become so overwhelmingly powerful that it becomes habit, a norm, and leaves the user unbeknownst to the dependence they maintain with said technology. On a personal level, I feel the advancement of technology caters only to the lazy in society; often I associate a new technology with its ability to make a task easier than it once was. Here I give you the example of a medical advance that allows for obese persons to rapidly lose weight: the procedure known as gastric bypass surgery. Now I must state before going any further I realize that they are people whose well-being and lives can be saved because of this procedure (the reason behind the inception of said procedure). Where I have a problem with this "technology" lies in that it, along with other "technologies" (i.e. the television and one of its children - MTV for example) these create an easier way of tackling a problem: in this case, losing weight without actually having to go on some gimmicky/trendy weight loss plan or even, heaven-forbid, lose weight the old fashion way and exercise. Gastric bypass surgery is the best of both worlds, yes one must endure a surgical procedure, but only to be granted the gift of a new, slimmer figure just like those found on the screen at the local movie-theater and can still eat as many deep fried caramel glazed pork rines as they want all while never having to sweat one drop. But why should I care? Who am I to tell someone that they are wrong for having gastric bypass surgery or that they have wasted hours upon hours of their life looking up old high school flames on facebook.com? Postman and I agree here that again, although technologies are created/invented to solve problems and bring advancements, they most often bring repercussions that go unseen.
But I should state where I oppose some of Mr. Postmans ideas on technology and I do so via Lance Lavine and his distinguished ideas on nature and technology and a relation to architecture. Where would humans live or how could humans construct without building ideas or "technologies" like trabeated or arcuated structural systems? I keep invisioning in my head its 2006, there is no "technology", and a couple billion people try to call only a few caves "home". Again, that is just a figurative thought. It fascinated me the first time that I learned that columns, Egyptian columns were formed obviously as a main, structural component to a building, but formed around the bunching of reeds. I keep writing about things that pop into my head when I think of architecture and technology and continually cant help how technological advances were formed in a way that emulated nature. Example: windows to bring in natural light where it otherwise wouldn't be found. The biggest problem I had with Postman's ideas where that all technology brings with it greater downfalls to man, but I can't help but think that Postman is ironically contradicting himself (i.e. the tool of language and writing - even more so symbols, and Gutenbergs printing press invariably made it possible for Postman to let his thoughts be known to the greater world, thoughts that most obviously were derived from innumberable encounters he had throughout his lifetime with technologies).