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Stephen Parisi

11/14/17

Molloy College

ENG 255

Dr. Hey

Paper One

It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.

Albert Einstein. The fact of the matter is, most of us walk around with computers in our pockets

that are more powerful than those that put men on the moon. Thats right, Im referring to our

coveted smartphones. Now, technology as we know it, has become increasingly advanced in the

last two to three decades. We as people have access to more information now than ever before in

history. With the click of a button we are transported through a super highway of encrypted and

encoded material at lightening speed, to reach our desired destination. It is true we have more

access to information than at any other time in the history of this planet. The question remains,

are we responsible enough as a society to handle these incredible technological advancements?

Are we advanced enough as a species to sever that smartphone from our grasp? Do we have

enough self-control to refrain from checking our messages at work? Maybe even turn it off and

not look at it through an entire dinner with our family? We tell ourselves we dont need social

media, but have we ever gone more than a day without checking our profile? Searching

desperately for that validating like of a picture or photo comment. People walk by on the street
as with their heads down, shuffling through busy New York foot traffic while not once picking

their heads up from their phones. There is something so much more appealing in the digital

world as compared to reality. The digital world provides a comfort for people who yearn to

escape that everyday monotony that is life itself. But is this technology something we can

handle? Or will we become enslaved to it? Justin Katkos piece of ergodic literature, Up

Against the Screen Mother F*ckers! tackles the question: Are we slaves to technology? In his

two minute and forty-three second video, Katko conveys a strong message to people about

technology in society and the dangers in becoming too enamored with all these new

technological developments.

In todays Internet, anything can go viral, reaching millions and millions in seconds,

spreading like a contagious disease. Many do not even realize it when it is happening. It has all

become so second-nature for people. If the president tweets something nonsensical at 3:00am,

there will be millions of people awake, ready to receive and discuss whatever new information it

is they are given. In order to go viral, information does not even have to be true nowadays. As

long as whatever is going viral is something catchy that captures the eye and the interest of the

masses, it will be perceived as it is presented. In a piece of ergodic literature, Carrier (Becoming

Symborg) by Melinda Rackham and Daniel Everett, chronicles the life of a virtual Hepatitis C

virus. The Hepatitis C virus is personified as a conscious individual and the audience begins to

develop a relationship with this Hepatitis C virus. The Hepatitis C virus is an intelligent and fatal

disease. Only in the last two years has a cure finally been developed. This piece of ergodic

literature was published in 1999, about 16 years before the cure was discovered. So at the time of

this publication, Hepatitis C was still as serious a disease as any. Returning to the original point,
in this piece of ergodic literature, the audience develops an intimate love relationship between

themselves and this Hepatitis C virus. As the audience is guided and immersed by this intelligent

virus, we become one with this virtual agent, becoming symborg. Just as we become so

enveloped with shocking news stories, celebrity scandals, pictures of cats, and videos of people

falling off roofs, the Hepatitis C, a deadly and dangerous disease, envelops the audience in,

Carrier (Becoming Symborg). Ironically, we take part in such behavior on a regular basis with

technology. We spend enormous amounts of time absorbing these viral items on the Internet

that we never stop to wonder if what we are consuming will eventually lead to our own demise.

In todays society, the author has been replaced with the blogger, or amateur blogger, as

anyone who has social media who shares their thoughts with their followers is an amateur

blogger. Today, everyone is a blogger. Even online journalism has evolved to using Twitter to

post their articles. According to Roland Barthes, as soon as a writer begins writer, they have

begun heading down the path to their death. This is to say that, once the words of a story, or

more often in todays society, once the words of a Tweet have finished being written, the writer

or author no longer exists. They die after that final period. This is because their job is done. They

have created a story of some sort and now they have chosen to share that story with others, the

readers. If one hundred different people read the same story there would be 100 probably

completely different perspectives of that same story. Once the writer has concluded writing their

story, it is the readers job to interpret the written works. Barthes argues, As soon as a fact is

narrated no longer with a view to acting directly on reality but intransitively (The Death of

the Author 142). Barthes continues on, That is to say, finally outside of any function other

than that of the very practice of the symbol itself, this disconnection occurs, the voice loses its

origin, the author enters [their] own death, writing begins. Today we are witnessing the death of
the author in multiple ways. While written literature is not going away anytime soon, the digital

age weve entered has opened up so many more possibilities. Hopefully, we as a society, adapt to

this technology in a healthily manner, in order to further progress as a human race.

When future human beings look back at this point in history, will they marvel at what

unfathomable technological advancements we were able to make with such a small amount of

time on this earth? Or will they snicker at how technology enslaved us and made us weaker as a

people? Only time will tell. In the meantime, we need not be enamored with technology and with

social media, but rather be appreciative of it and wonder, How can we use this to better the

world? Perhaps a little less time looking down at our phones and a little more time looking up at

the sky would be a fantastic start. Or dare I even say less time looking at our phones and more

time looking at one another? Social media is a powerful and influential platform. We can spread

love instead of hate. We can spread ideas instead of belittling free thought. Isnt it more

advantageous for us if love goes viral?


Works Cited

Barthes, Roland. The Death of the Author.

http://Artsites.ucsc.edu/Faculty/Gustafson/FILM%20162.W10/Readings/Barthes.death.p

df,artsites.ucsc.edu/faculty/Gustafson/FILM%20162.W10/readings/barthes.death.pdf.

Everett, Damien & Rackham, Melissa. Carrier (Becoming Symborg).

Collection.eliterature.org, 1999,

http://collection.eliterature.org/1/works/rackham_everett__carrier_becoming_symborg.ht

ml

Katko, Justin. Up Against the Screen Mother F*ckers! Collection.eliterature.org, June 2008,

collection.eliterature.org/2/works/katko_up_against/up-against-the-screen-mother-

fuckers/up-against-the-screen-mother-fuckers.mov.