Media Theory — Reflection 3/16

I looked back over my notes from last class and saw I wrote “why is it important to understand histories of technology?” The first thing that came to mind is “this is a loaded ques…,” although I’m not entirely sure if that’s the right answer. It’s a good, broad question where you can offer several opinions on it, though we’d have to start at its core, which is technology in its earliest form. First, technology comes from the Greek word “techne” which means art or craft. Technologies were considered tools at first; they required labor and craftsmanship, whereas now technology is considered digital and takes us away from materialized labor. This shift has required us to use our hands less and bodies overall, except when it comes to things like typing, listening to sounds, speaking to a voice assistant, and most prominent, using our eyes to read or watch something on a screen. Virtual reality takes us away from using our hands so much since we don’t have to use a mouse or keyboard, though the increase of haptics counterbalances that. I was actually just having a conversation with my roommates on what will happen post-pandemic. Will we want to break free from our digital technologies since we’ve been cooped up inside for a year with them, or will we be so addicted that it’ll be hard to step away from them?

“Where research happens is determined socially, politically, and economically.” This is a frightening thought because we saw throughout the Trump administration how he and his oh-so-glorious cabinet were able to undermine scientific research in the worst way possible. I also think about the awful experiments performed on innocent people during World War II. How could some individuals use their intelligence in the most unethical way possible? It can be distressing to think about how some places have so many resources to utilize and build new forms of sciences and technologies, yet, they may not be for good. Instead of focusing on how we can improve life in terms of health or send people into space, people will focus on building things like nuclear war missiles.

It’s interesting how scientists build a spectrum of gender through chemicals because now we’ve broken the binary laws that kept us to only being male or female, as well as having to stay the gender we were told at birth. I’ve always hated the idea how just because someone is born with or grows into sex characteristics that automatically means they have to be male or female when it should just come down to the individual’s choice of who they want to be. I definitely don’t fall under the typical male stereotypes of liking sports or video games, though I’m not just going to conform to those norms because every other man in my hometown does. While there are substances in the body that can regulate behavior, physiology, and biology, I don’t think that should determine someone’s gender or how others perceive them.

We talked about how VR tries to bring this sense of realism to us, and I’m thinking about building a simulated experience of that as an object for my proposal. I think VR is great in this sense and can help us see new/different worlds, but I think we should also not try to get too close to a sense of realism with virtual reality. I fear that we’ll get to a point where we don’t know how to separate virtual or augmented reality from actual reality. One example I think of is hallucinogens. Shrooms for example make people, well some people, sense this altered state of mind where they feel super happy and see intense visuals, although they won’t be able to experience what’s happening in the real world for hours. I spoke with one friend of mine about their trip and he said his experience was so good, he didn’t want to ever come down. He also explained that everything else in the real world didn’t matter to him and all of his anxiety was dormant in this period of time. Hallucigens like this we know are not good for us, at least in high qualities, and can become so enthralling that we just want to be high all the time, meanwhile, our actually reality will dissipate. It might be eerie to compare hallucigenic drugs to virtual reality, although the two are similar in ways, just like how we know using our computers, game consoles, and entertainment systems can mess with our health and well-being overtime.