Making technology more human, or humans into technology?

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I must preface this post with a simple fact: I have not seen the movie Her, nor did I really know what it was about any more than a man falling in love with a computer before I read this article. However, Kyle Vanhemert has really shone a good light on more than just the romantic aspects of this movie, and has made it sound awfully appealing.

Anyway, Vanhemert brings up some great points that are totally valid and important in today’s technological society that just increasingly becomes more and more technological, and less and less human. Or does it?

Director Spike Jonze is quoted in the first few paragraphs of the article, “Her, he realized, isn’t a movie about technology. It’s a movie about people.” This struck me, seeing as the only thing I knew about the movie prior to this article was the simple fact that a man falls in love with a computer, meaning: the movie’s about a computer. But, this was definitely a more interesting way to think about the movie, and even about society as a whole.

Jonze goes on to explain what I think is the heart of the article: “[what the movie] is really concerned with are human relationships, as fragile and complicated as they’ve been from the start.” Start of what, you may ask. Time? Technology? Who knows? What’s important to focus on is the point that even in a world drowning in new technologies (even a world set in the future), what is important is not all these advances, but human interaction and how it adapts with us.

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It is clear that one could easily make the argument that technology gets in the way of human interaction, but maybe this film sets off to prove just the opposite. Maybe we crave all this new technology because we crave intimacy and interactions that we can’t find in daily life, and instead can find them through a screen, speaker, keyboard, etc.

Let’s think about some of the main types of technologies or social media we use nowadays:

fb_icon_325x325 Facebook. The perfect way to put up a whiney status about your day as a subtle cry for attention in order for people to message you and ask, “hey, are you okay?” Maybe you couldn’t reach out for help in real life, but over the internet you feel more at ease, and it gives you a way to express your feelings. Boom. Now maybe you’re talking to someone you’ve never spoken to before. Progress!

carousel-apple-iphone-6-silver-380x380-1iPhones. iMessaging that sends as quickly as in-person conversation, just to give you the illusion that you’re not totally alone, even when you are. Maybe you feel more comfortable participating in conversation over the phone via text so you can ugly-laugh at that silly text, or goofy-smile at that cute emoji. Whatever it is, you’re happy. Progress? I think so.

facetime-logo FaceTime/Skype/Oovoo/whatever video service you use. A more interactive way to speak to another person than iMessaging or texting, but you can still control exactly what you look like on screen to the other person. Or maybe you can cover your face and just watch the other person talk instead. You’re comfortable in conversation, but don’t have to worry about the pressures of being face to face. P R O G R E S S .

It’s hard to feel like we’re not transforming into robots with all the technology being thrust upon us at every moment of the day; you can’t walk down a street without almost bumping into someone from both of your noses shoved down into your phone screen instead of facing up and being alert at what’s around you. Everyone is always Twittering, Instagramming, iPhoning, laptopping, iPodding, etc. all the time, how is it even possible to have true human interaction anymore, right? But maybe it’s as simple as the underlying motive of Her. Maybe instead of us becoming robots, we should continue to make “technology more human,” and continue to find new interactions, intimacies, and relationships in places we never would have thought before.

Written by Meg Murray.

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Making technology more human, or humans into technology?

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