Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Myth in Technology

The press, the coverage of the war, and the buildup to the war, was almost exclusively focused on the power of our weaponry and the might of our military. Not only were the graphics quite consciously designed to look like a video game, but the message was that not only are our weapons powerful, but we as a people are powerful…That mythic narrative of war is something that always boosts ratings and sells newspapers. It’s how William Randolph Hearst build his empire at the turn of the century, by creating a war where there was no need for one…War is packaged and sanitized the same way the poisons of tobacco or liquor are packaged and sanitized. We see enough of the titillation and excitement to hold our interest, but we never actually see what wounds do to bodies…So we go in with a stage set, and we are just looking for the characters to put against the backdrop of the scenery. We re-create over and over and over this mythic narrative that is false but that makes us feel good as a people and that everybody back home wants to read and hear. It’s war as boy’s adventure.
— Chris Hedges, interviewed in Kristina Borjesson's book Feet to the Fire: The Media After 9/11.
Excerpted from pages 520 and 532.

As I wrote in Technology Challenged, technology offers us vastly more information than ever before, but…“Perhaps because of a psychology evolved in a much simpler world, many find comfort in simplifying prejudices: good vs. evil, our religion vs. theirs, our ethnicity vs. theirs. Technology mediates between our environment and us, so it can reinforce the perception of any reality we want. If we want to believe that the CIA or Mossad orchestrated the flying of planes into the World Trade Center, we can find websites that document and confirm this.” The riveting interviews in Feet to the Fire shed light on how media present us with reality.

The journey we each take from cradle on, seizing new freedoms and the responsibility to wield them wisely, is mirrored by our civilization. How do we, as a society, wield the power of our technology? Consciously, critically, and thoughtfully if I have anything to say about it.

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