Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Primitivist Hypocrisy?

“So you call yourself a primitivist, rail against dehumanizing technology, and promote the complete annihilation of industrial civilization.  Yet you own a refrigerator and drive a car and use a computer and a cell phone and actively partake of the technological products of industrial civilization in a thousand ways.   Surely you are aware of the contradiction.  You are a nothing but a hypocrite, and your hypocrisy renders your words vacuous.”

Interesting.  So if a smoker preaches against the dangers of smoking, then tobacco ceases to be a carcinogen? 

I am forced to live a life of contradiction.  It is not a choice.  Failure to participate nominally in the system is lethal.    It is precisely this forced contradiction that I am railing against.   I could drop out of the system to the extent allowed, and live a solitary life pushing my shopping cart from alley to alley, or huddling in the shelter of a freeway overpass.  I could build a cabin in the mountains and survive by eating roots and rabbits.  But these options would only further alienate me from my humanity. 

Humans are social animals.  We find happiness and fulfillment embedded in a meaningfully woven social fabric.   Mass technology has usurped much of our social thread, and the bonds that connect us are becoming progressively thin and tenuous.  In many cases, the only connection we have to important people in our lives is through technological mediation.  Thanks to Skype, my granddaughter and I can talk to each other’s images in real time through the computer, but we cannot plant garlic together, or sit on the riverbank and throw rocks, or chase the dog through the house.    Mass technology endorses the former and mass marketing attempts to convince us that it is equivalent—or even superior—to the latter.  Years ago, a telecommunications corporation told us that long distance was “the next best thing to being there,” a tagline that at least acknowledged the superiority of face-to-face human contact.   Now we are told that the convenience of virtual conferencing renders actual human-to-human interaction superfluous.

Yes I own a computer (and a cell phone and…).  And I use it, fully conscious of how it along with the corporate infrastructure of which it is but a small part has wedged itself between me and the free expression of my human nature.   But it is not hypocrisy to own a computer and at the same time plot to bring about a world in which computers don’t exist.    

No comments:

Post a Comment