Rants

Writing in a Digital Pandemic

I am obsessed with digitisation and technology at the moment. The poems I am currently working on reflect this, even the novel I have in works has very strong technological themes, and this is for a number of reasons.

  1. I work for an IT company so I have to know about the latest tech and cloud happenings.
  2. Technology is everywhere. We have literally become overrun by screens. First came the TV screen, then the computer/laptop. Mobile phones became smart. Laptops and mobile had their love child: the tablet. In my house I shamelessly have 7 screens and that’s only for 2 of us.
  3. The internet is everywhere. A natural evolution from the explosive technology that wants to ‘connect’ us all together in one, easy to manage system.
But this whole digital technology is invading every aspect of our lives. If you haven’t heard about the Internet of Things, google it now. Essentially, it’s the very-almost-realised idea that normal everyday objects will be connected to the internet. Your thermostat, your washing machine, your car, your lights, your windows, even your pets and children. I’m not joking. They will have their own IP addresses and interact with our ‘smart’ devices, with us, even anticipating our behaviour. It’s changing the very fabric of our society, well western society that is. We’ve all noticed it. It’s so hard to actually have a real, face-to-face conversation with someone without it being interrupted by some little black machine buzzing, singing or flashing at you. Head bent, we isolate ourselves from real interaction. We care more about taking photos and updating statuses than actually experiencing life. Since when did sharing become a marketing tactic for the capitalist business world? A world that does quite the opposite of sharing. It takes from us. It’s taken our relationships and personalities and turned them into something they can track, monitor and turn into big data analytics. Just so they can sell us more and more. Push together Orwell and Huxley and you get the modern day. Big Brother watching us through devices we pay to use, we want to have and believe are essential to our lives. This digital mass hysteria is our soma, keeping us distracted, keeping us wanting the next hit, the next product, the next upgrade. I believe it was Wells that stated that any utopia would not be a static system, but one that is constantly improving, always getting better, faster and more efficient, a constant wave of improvements. Is that not what the tech companies have created here?

The irony here, of course, is the fact that I’m sharing this to you through the very thing I am criticising. I’m just as absorbed as the rest. I just can’t figure out if, in the end, it is good or bad. The science and the technology really is amazing, I can definitely appreciate that. The things we can do now, the things that we know are incredible. The thing that concerns me is the power this creates for the few at the top, and in turn, the weakness in endows onto the rest of us. Are we unknowingly controlled by this system? Or if not now, will we be soon? I must sound like a hippie… ‘fight the system’ etc. That is not my point. Privacy is my concern. If there is a system, someone, somewhere will find a way to use it to their advantage. This system of using money to distribute power enables a system for the greedy. We should all be concerned.

I’m really trying to explore this new digital generation in my writing. Our growing dependence on a virtual world. I wonder if any of you are doing something similar? I would love to share some ideas. Hopefully I will get a poem up on here soon which will illustrate my point.
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3 thoughts on “Writing in a Digital Pandemic

  1. Hi there. Good post, good points made. I don’t know whether it’s good or bad either. I know that you have to embrace & use technology whether you like it or not, or be left behind. But I don’t like that we sit on buses nowadays and see everyone else’s face reflected in a screen on their lap. But then, did we ever chat much on buses before all this? I’ve just written a novel online in instalments – just because that’s where peoples’ attentions are now directed. But would I read a book this way myself? Probably not. And loads of my readers found it weird and difficult too. I think a lot of us are caught up in the middle of this digital transition, floundering like fish in a net, not quite knowing our fate, whether it’s going to be heads or tails. http://novel-by-sjs.blogspot.co.uk/ 🙂 Happy tapping! x

    • Hi, thank you so much for your comment! That’s so cool, writing a novel in instalments, much like in the olden times but online. I will definitely read it and share my views 🙂 I guess people like to just read in their own time. Plus, I’m a traditionalist. If I can ill always read a book in print rather than online. Ebooks and ereaders just don’t match up. Well not yet anyway but maybe they will some day. Everything is so, it’s still all trial and error. Great to connect with you anyway I guess that’s the one good thing about the Internet. You can always find people with similar interests and values 🙂

  2. Hi there! Agreed. I have a Sony Reader which went flat & I never re-charged it! I can’t properly remember how to download books now, let alone read them. Like you, I still love the feel, smell, artwork of real books and have loads waiting to be read. My book is offline now whilst I edit it but I’m really hoping to get this one published, so watch this space. Good luck with your projects! 🙂 x

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