Technology has been both our curse and our gift. Information can now be at record speed; you can communicate with people in ways you could never before and records can be kept a lot easier. On the flipside books are starting to become obsolete (which as a writer really saddens me), newspapers and other news sources aside from websites are becoming less popular, and people are communicating more, but actually interacting less. The latter part then brings me to the first word in the title of this post: Atavism.
Now for those of you who don’t know, atavism is another word for regression. With technology we are regressing as a species even though as a society we seem to be progressing. Our speech, how we spell things, grammar and even non-existent words have been on the decline since the introduction of these technologies. My go to example for this phenomenon happens to come from a movie. I actually don’t like this very much as a movie, but as an anthropological study is ingenious. I’m talking of course about 2001: A Space Odyssey. The whole concept of this movie is evolution both of man and of technology. The movie starts out with a bunch of apes circling around this monolith that shows up. The apes are confused, grunting at each other, and trying to communicate what is going on but it is hard since they have yet to develop speech.
Then the movie fast forwards to 2001 (which for a movie that was made in 1968 is the distant future) where technology has overtaken man. It becomes a race between man and computer to obtain this very same monolith that now is on the moon. In the process, man has become cut off from other men due to the computers. This movie then shows a regression back to the days where men were still apes trying to grunt to speak with each other but instead of speech being the issue technology is. This of course leads us to the next word: Affinity.
What is affinity you ask? Put simply, it is connection between two or more individuals; connection that we are now losing because of technology. Now with texting, emailing, Facebook, twitter and all the other social media devices we don’t ever have to actually see a person to correspond with them. In fact I have been equally guilty of this as anyone. Technology has made us impersonal.
There is however another side to this affinity. Technology has actually helped us connect better in some cases than we ever could before, with people we would never have met if it wasn’t for that. The greatest example is twitter (since you all know that I am a twitter addict). For me twitter is a place that I have met tons of people who live all around the world that have my same interests. These are people who I would’ve never had the chance to meet before twitter and other social media. Even this very blog couldn’t be produced without the aid of technology.
So am I telling you to get rid of all technology? No of course not; gods know I couldn’t survive without it. What I’m hoping is that this will make you think about it more and use other avenues than strictly technological ones to communicate, gather information, read, etc. There needs to be a balance like in everything else, balance that the auditor was severely lacking the other day. Now we have come full circle in this little saga here which as you know always continues and will never reach a stopping point just as technological advances will also.
Samantha (Sam) Curtin is a Geospatial Information Science Graduate Student at University of Maryland and a Penn State Anthropology Alum. She has a passion for horror, dark fantasy, anthropology, technology, and religion. By day, Sam is a technical editor for the federal government. Her first books "Dark Cell," "Deal with the Devil," and "Summer's Hollow" are available on Amazon.com. All are published through her publishing company “Behind the Curtin Publications.”