Transcendance

Path in MalawiWhen I travelled to Malawi, Africa, it showed me something about my lifestyle. Do to the poverty in Malawi there was little to no internet or technology in rural areas. Thus, for the duration of the trip, my phone was reduced to an expensive black box that could only send texts. At the end of my trip the lack of technology was a freedom. I came to resent the expensive little black box that ran my life and held most of my attention. That resentment lasted about a week. Being a westerner in the 21st century, I had to share my experiences of Malawi on Facebook. After that I was back to staring at my phone whenever there was a dull moment.

My phone provides me with a way to catch up with my friends, obtain inspiration, and receive news. If I’m being honest, social media (Facebook) draws me to my smart phone the most. In January, around 69% of the public used a social media sight. 88% of those between the ages 18 and 29 are recorded to use Facebook, with around 76% of the population accessing Facebook daily. It is no surprise to us that a majority of people use Facebook every day. The fact that we are always on our phones, on social media sites, is probably making us more lonely and is definitely cutting down on how well we communicate face to face. However, spending time on our phones could have grander consequences. Those consequences are good and can be summed by the movement Transhumanism.

I have been fascinated by transhumanism ever since I learned of it’s existence. Transhumanism is a “movement” that is organized around the thought that the next step in human evolution is a transcendence of human limitations through technology, genetics, and science. One method for transcending humanity offered by transhumanists, is the thought of a human-supercomputer singularity. By mapping a mind onto an supercomputer it is thought that we can escape mortality and sickness. Another proponent of this idea is that when the populace has been transferred to their computers, a connection between each singularity will give everyone access to all human knowledge.

This idea seems far fetched, but we are already achieving this sort of connection in surprising ways. More and more information is being put on the internet allowing us to all have a sort of collective memory. A my friend Jonathan Castele said this to me a few years ago “We don’t have to memorize anything anymore because it is all stored on our phones. We are basically cyborgs, we just do not have any implants yet.” The internet basically acts as our memory or storage place for knowledge. We are connected in a very transhuman sense through social media as well. This is evidenced by the fact that to reach your facebook is to reach you. For most people, a facebook profile is some aspect of those people’s’ minds. Thus, your profile is the same as your mind, only in a digital space. As we invest more time in our phones and devices we live more in a digital space bringing use closer to crossing over.

I loved not picking up my phone every few minutes to check Facebook in Malawi. I am still a human, thus the human interactions to be had in Malawi were far more important than anything in the digital realm. Experiences obtained through human observation seem more real than those received digitally from someone else. Maybe this is the reason we feel it is wrong to be on our phones instead of with others. We should all balance our time on and off our phones, but an imbalance might just lead to the future.