For some thinkers, technology makes us freer and more powerful. But others think exactly the opposite. As the Chilean poet Nicanor Parra once said, who will free us from our liberators?
Parachute byung chul han, human beings of the 21st century are subjected to a most efficient system of domination and semi-slavery: since in most cases we are convinced that we exercise our freedom in the fullest way. For Chul Han, very few humans really know what freedom is. Or as I would say – saving the distances – Calamaro, those who lost her know her, those who saw her go very far up close.
Contrary to the perception we usually have, the high level of individualism that human beings experience in the 21st century does not make us freer, but rather on the contrary. Freedom is, in its etymological sense, a relational concept. This means that someone cannot be free alone.
Following Chul Han’s thought, if men are not free, we cannot be empowered either. In fact, for this thinker, we believe that we have more power and freedom, but, on the contrary, we are increasingly enslaved and weak. The real power resides then in those who “make us believe” that we can be our own bosses and work until our brains are cold. In this sense, technology plays a key role in this scheme that describes Chul Han in depth in his Psychopolitical essay.
The challenge of disconnection
Let’s think about it this way: when we have an application for streaming entertainment content, we are supposedly much freer than when we use the limited offer of satellite or cable television providers. Or that when you use the limits of Blockbuster. Anyone who is not a centennial can perfectly remember having spent entire Sundays watching old movies, and that they had already seen over and over again, translated into Latin Spanish. However, today, we can choose practically anything for a paltry sum of money compared to what we usually pay for satellite television. In addition, we can pause if we feel like going to the bathroom, restart the movie if we fall asleep, or watch it over and over again if we feel like it. The hasty conclusion would then be that we are much freer using Netflix than watching TV. In fact, that is the same logic with which entertainment on demand is sold: the empowered citizen-consumer. However, if we look a little more carefully, when we use content streaming applications, we are voluntarily giving up a large amount of information, which will later translate into personalized recommendations. These recommendations select a fairly limited universe of themes and content, instead of giving us the promised absolute freedom. These schemes also generate various types of “addiction”, which make it extremely difficult to return to a previous state of affairs when they do not use social networks or on-demand content applications. So are we really freer thanks to technology?
Much of the experience that these accelerated technological changes generate on human beings has a lot to do with what happens to us when we are on a roller coaster. When we are on a roller coaster or some similar game, the first thing we experience has to do with the total loss of control over what is happening around us. In most cases, no matter how much we want to, we can’t download or stop the game until it’s over, and we also don’t know what’s going to happen in the next thousandth of a second.
This vertigo, which causes us adrenaline, also generates fear, and in some cases even despair, loss of freedom, and consequently, of power.
* Author and disseminator. Emerging technologies specialist.
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