It is unlikely you are as autonomous as you think you are.
Monkey see monkey do. We all remember infancy, watching in wonder at the television screen (a third-party salesperson) as it attempts to communicate the benefits of a toy you don’t need. Nevertheless, you persuade your parents to acquire it anyway. This coercion lingers in adulthood, only, the third party is your smartphone; the toy is a trend or a holiday or a camera, a skill, but only because your peers are doing the same and you too wish to be adored for the same reason.
An age-old anecdote referring to pawns in a game of chess is a widely used euphemism comparing the lives of people in a system of governance. This allegory is rather unfair to its figurines, considering pieces on the board have an intended motivation with predetermined skills, purpose and one overall understanding – to win.
The internet is a ghastly grotesque of digitised communion that has damaged our connective emotional tissue in a matter of years, and by that, I mean a few, not several. Where would we be if not for the internet? It is of course not without its benefits. Expansion of rights, the mobilisation of unions, protests and the circulation of once suppressed information.
Comparing society to such a polished game with strict rules in play is far removed from where we are in the sands of time. Human logic became irrational and used for the temporary gain of finite pleasure derived from a mountain of insatiable media waiting to be gorged by users of its experience. It is no accident that the word ‘consumer’ is a derivative of ‘consume’, the very, and practically only thing we humans do these days. It is but an irony that the consumption of information found online consumes our intelligence. We’re no longer in command. Not when a 6-inch device is grasped by the palm of our hands.
This is done to the point that we’re no longer in control of how we think, feel and determine instinctual movements and thoughts; we’re governed by fleeting sources of pictures and video our brain interprets as a constant source of dopamine. It is now trained to refer to a smartphone in order to access the internet, by us, like a needle pointing drugs into the vein. These simian like behaviours have persuaded us that we’re smarter than we think we are, though evidence points to the contrary.
We are constantly telling ourselves this allegiance is of great value, with little protection in place to prevent bias of the aforementioned. The web has shortened attention spans, debased memory and demolished creativity. We have convinced ourselves of the latter through irrationalities, though in reality, society is copying everyone else, and not in the Austin Kleon sense.
Robotics. This is the system of compromise we have entered ourselves into, consented through the illusion we are enjoying the activity of senseless browsing, swiping, scrolling without end, supported by the mechanics of denial. We’re far from content within the cyclical madness of a mind-numbingly depressed state. But convince ourselves we shall.
A robot operates through a string of commands executed only when the origin of those commands has approved its delivery. A robot also replicates the behaviour of other lifeforms, in the human sense, an android. So who is giving you the commands? Are you really in control?
So this I must ask – if I discovered you are a robot, would you wish me to tell you?