In the News (The Guardian): “Jonathan Safran Foer: ‘Technology Is Diminishing Us’
“Most of our communication technologies began as substitutes for an impossible activity. We couldn’t always see one another face to face, so the telephone made it possible to keep in touch at a distance. One is not always home, so the answering machine made a message possible without the person being near their phone. Online communication originated as a substitute for telephonic communication, which was considered, for whatever reasons, too burdensome or inconvenient. And then texting, which facilitated yet faster and more mobile messaging. These inventions were not created to be improvements on face-to-face communication, but a declension of acceptable, if diminished, substitutes for it.
“But then a funny thing happened: we began to prefer the diminished substitutes. It’s easier to make a phone call than to make the effort to see someone in person. Leaving a message on someone’s machine is easier than having a phone conversation – you can say what you need to say without a response; it’s easier to check in without becoming entangled. So we began calling when we knew no one would pick up. Shooting off an email is easier still, because one can further hide behind the absence of vocal inflection, and of course there’s no chance of accidentally catching someone. With texting, the expectation for articulateness is further reduced, and another shell is offered to hide in. Each step ‘forward’ has made it easier – just a little – to avoid the emotional work of being present, to convey information rather than humanity.
“The problem with accepting – with preferring – diminished substitutes is that, over time, we too become diminished substitutes. People who become used to saying little become used to feeling little. Or just feeling what’s been designed and sold to us to feel.”
Question: Where do you think modern technology, artificial intelligence etc., is leading mankind?
Answer: To the recognition that we have to give all that up and start working from heart to heart, to actually give up everything that is not related to the feeling in the heart. Everything else will reach its peak and then disappear. We will not need to connect through long lines and web networks, the highest technologies in space or in new cities, nothing.
We will not even need TV with giant screens and thousands of channels. No one will want to clog his head with all that. We see that young people are gradually turning their backs to that. It will take a few more years and we will also get rid of all the phones.
Comment: Futurologists say the exact opposite. They believe that an interstellar communication will be developed…
Answer: Nonsense. Nothing will happen.
Question: Are you saying that all this will disappear and man will want to feel warm affection again?
Answer: Today, for example, a car is a means of getting from one place to another, not the goal itself. Imagine that you had a spaceship and ten stars, and that your mother-in-law lived on one star and another relative or a friend lived on another, and you could get away from them all, get your own little planet and live there peacefully.
But we already realize that all these things lead to nothing. A person has to fill himself, and he cannot find a filling in all that, so we keep chasing different fillings and eventually see that although we have the means for that, it doesn’t justify itself. A person feels more and more empty.
Comment: It turns out that our whole life and future developments are merely a race actually a race after fillings…
Answer: Of course! See how writers depict futuristic pictures: we are moving from one place to another at such great speed, where to? From one empty end to another empty end, but at least they are writing best sellers.
Question: Jonathan Foer says that we are drawing away from the hearts. He actually fears that. Do people feel this fear as a result of progress?
Answer: No, they feel that because there is no way out. If humanity does not discover the reason and the goal of the creation, it will sink into drugs and sleeping pills.
Question: Why do we go through such a long way? Why do we need all these technologies?
Answer: Because we have to recognize the evil part of our nature. If we don’t get to fully know it, we will not be able to correct it.
From KabTV’s “News with Michael Laitman” 3/1/17