The American Scholar: Saving the Self in the Age of the Selfie – James McWilliams

“It is impossible,” writes Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget and the recognized father of virtual reality, “to work with information technology without also engaging in social engineering.” Those responsible for “the designs of the moment,” he warns, “pull us into life patterns that gradually degrade the ways in which each of us exists as an individual.” When our lives become “defined by software,” we become “entrapped in someone else’s recent careless thoughts.” Zadie Smith, the novelist, applied this idea to Facebook and concluded “everything in it is reduced to the size of its founder. … A Mark Zuckerberg production indeed!” Although the thoughts underscoring digital designs may be careless of our interests, they are not random. They generally reward commerce over creativity, collective data over individual expression, and most notably, numbness over nearness. In these ways, they lay the basis for what Lanier calls “cybernetic totalism.”

Source: The American Scholar: Saving the Self in the Age of the Selfie – James McWilliams

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