The relations between technology, information, acceleration, and horizontality, dictates a new horizontal mental geometry forever. It is like a fast forward button on a remote getting jammed…
The rapidness of events and visual stimulation around us (advertisements, billboards, and aggressive media constantly showering us with information of all types) focuses us on the present of the here and now. And of course, launches man forwards into a better future, full of opportunities… All that you have to do is move faster (subconsciously), and believe that the future is the redeemer, even if it is void of content, as long as it is the future, we can continue accelerating towards the liberating horizon. The forward movement manages to erase the aspects of memory and the past. At this speed, substantial relationships can’t emerge. Perhaps, in order to demonstrate this, try watching a black and white movie from the ’30s and ’40s. People are tailored, wearing suits, women are dressed well. They hold martini glasses, have casual conversations, nothing is urgent. The rhythm of time is slow, they are thoughtful and respectful to one another. They listen to one another in dialogs, the personal listening and attention to each other no longer exists. Whether it is in the living room, or at a coffee shop, the smartphone is set on the table, for there will definitely be an important caller, and so we know who texts or calls, we might have to answer. In the cellular era, connection is greater than content, as it’s a representation of movement and acceleration, or so our subconscious experiences it. The phone is put between the conversers as if to say “me first”. Conversation is commonly disrupted. The lack of a continuous dialogue is a type of collective ADD. Relationships are stripped down to their minimums. Reminiscent of the train tracks in western America. It doesn’t matter what’s in the carriages, what’s important is that trains are constantly moving.
In this state, slow relationships of compassion, meaning, and empathy. Content disappears and is replaced by information, entertainment, and cooking shows. Perhaps subconscious speed also has an effect of fear, such as on a rollercoaster… Fear makes us consume more and more information and entertainment. Cooking, clothes stores, and sex are a last grip of the physical dimension and are a response to the technological information era we are in. If meaningful content doesn’t exist, time passes purposelessly. Nothing to remember, we are probably living a sort of life without memory and historical meaning. Someone once said, “How will we know where we are going, if we don’t know where we are coming from”… Marilyn Monroe, John Kennedy, Caligula, Genghis Khan, Twiggy, the Battle of Thermopylae, the Vietnam War… Don’t be mistaken – they were not forgotten by the smartphone and Facebook generation, they never existed. It is reminiscent of Star Trek space travel, a leap forward, leaving behind white stripes and empty void. “Elli fat mat”, a saying in Arabic meaning “the past is dead”, is mistaken, as the past isn’t dead but rather has never existed. Without memory, the aspect of the past completely disappears. At the edge of the polar chain, we find Marcel Proust and his monumental creation about memory, in search of lost time. It seems as if speed and the future “hold within them such a grand promise” that perhaps choosing them to rule exclusively over the human subconscious is better than all.
But without memory (personal or collective), without intimate relationships of communication, empathy, and longing for the past, identity fades both in the individual and the group (after all, the group is made from the individuals within it). One doesn’t remember where he came from, where he’s headed and he doesn’t know who he even is anymore, and to avoid these hard questions he becomes addicted to technology, the internet, the smartphone, just to find a place for himself, the only place that’s left: speed. Speed is optimistic; it keeps us from falling (as there is an equivalence between acceleration and gravity) and it also liberates from ‘past hardships’. As the question of identity grows, so does our need for speed, an attempt of receiving an answer from the horizon. All in the technological swarm, everybody’s in a rush, their destination must be obvious to them, so of course, I’ll join, the sum is greater than its parts. The digital me is greater than the physical me. The technological swarm (the users, Facebook, WhatsApp) behaves as an amplifier for movement and speed. Perhaps this is also a type of liberating vertigo. Staying in the safety of the liberating speed. It is social, it is to stay connected with everyone. How investigator O’Brien says in 1984: Not believing that 2+2=5 is to not be part of big brother’s party. Not being part of the party is not existing, Winston would be thrown out of time and history into the void. Because technological acceleration is the only place left for us, it is obvious why we stick to it. Perhaps it reminds us of Quantum mechanics. A wave has speed and direction. A particle has a location. You can’t know both speed and location. You choose one, you lose the other, so it is in modern physics. We, of course, prefer the wave aspect and not the particle aspect, quantum mechanics includes us in the swarm as the duality of wave-particle applies to light as well. The swarm swirls, we need the swarm because the intensity of the swirl (a result of the speed) increases as more people join it with a click of the mouse. like a space station, the swirl creates gravity, which is how artificial gravity is made in outer space. Einstein’s thoughts live on again, not only in physics but also in our technological-spiritual lives. Physics is translated into psychological processes, feelings, habits, and thoughts.
The speed that technology dictates over us has some explanations from different points of view. Speed is a perfect crime. It steals our soul, identity, in exchange for the opportunity to join the swarm – our new home on the highway. Only photons are allowed in. Our identities have become insubstantial. It alternates between the digits 0 and 1. It is digital magic where words, music, movies, images, and files, all become combinations of those digits. The technology of information prefers speed and disconnect, breaking up sequences, loss of memory, like in Spielberg’s “Artificial Intelligence” (2001). In this movie, aliens surround the child-robot and show him an illusion of an hour with his mother (who is no longer alive). This shows (like HAL, the computer in “A Space Odyssey” and the robot in “Bicentennial Man”) the reverse trend of passion and will to become a human. To be free from technology.
The use of cellular and the internet now creates a global immigrant country. A virtual country, where movement is unrelated to content or identity. It is movement throughout infinite space, without any limits. It is an attempt of mankind to liberate itself from the physical realm and transmit our consciousness, usually anonymously. It is immigration into the realm of speed and letting acceleration rule over us. It’s reminiscent of Lewis Caroll in his book “Through The Looking-Glass” and what Alice found. The white queen turns to Alice, mockingly asking: “What lame memory do you have that you can’t remember what happened tomorrow?”