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Hive Mind, or The Drones Club

October 2, 2013

Everywhere I go, and I mean everywhere, I see faces peering into smart phones. It is not uncommon to look into a restaurant and see half of the diners gawping into tiny screens, and whole tables of people saying nothing, perhaps a couple on a date telling each other what they’re looking at on their phones. Drive a car and every other driver on the road is dividing their attention between the Internet and driving. Take a bus and most of the riders are absorbed by portable electronic devices. Smart phones are more ubiquitous than tonsils. I don’t have a smart phone. I have a good old-fashioned flip phone. Chelsea gives me crap for being a hipster. She calls my phone “retro” or “vintage”. I can’t carry the massive weight of the Internet around in my pocket. The experience is similar to owning a Tamagotchi, I would imagine. In the end you find it’s controlling you more than you’re controlling it.

The rewards of always being connected, seen and unseen like a flirtatious ghost, dim when one considers the cost. We live in a world with a foot in two worlds. Not focused on either of them enough, swerving dangerously in our car while posting misspelled misogynistic comments on youtube. The bonds of society fray in the real world while a battalion of anonymous soldiers spread hate electronically. The wealth of the real world is being hoarded by fewer and richer people while the providers of the Internet and the corporations that profit off its back are in a conspiracy to aid in the collection of the remaining resources.

The Internet is lauded as bringing us closer together. It is praised for the efficient dispersal of information. Knowledge, once closely regulated by the people in power, has been democratized and is readily available to anyone with an Internet connection. But the knowledge is corrupted by our own influence, polluted by hubris and ignorance. It is the knowledge of puppies and porn. Rather than bringing us closer together, the Internet has become the middleman in relationships where none previously existed and it is a poor substitute for face-to-face contact, or even voice-to-voice contact. It brings exaggeration where none is needed and downplays news of consequence. It aids in vice and ridicules virtue.

It is a depressing place to be, the Internet. It is at best bewildering and at worst heart-breaking. It is a massive art project and we are all the artists. It reveals our hatreds and our obsessions. It lays bare our fears and prejudices. It is the mirror that shows us our true face, a face marked by greed and a lecherous leer with a vituperative tongue.

But then here I am. Writing this and posting it on the Internet. Contributing to the massive work of vulgar art. Am I also greedy and lecherous and vituperative? Is the true face of humanity my face as well? I wish I could say no.

I’ve been trying to stay off the Internet. It is an unpopular decision for someone my age. But it’s a good thing popularity has never mattered to me. I have found that over the last couple of weeks, as I have restricted my Internet usage to checking email and use as a television, I have been much happier. It has forced me to avoid social media and the news.

I know this isn’t normal, to question the Internet and desire to turn my back on it. I feel like the last crewmember of the Enterprise not yet assimilated by the Borg.

“Look, if you all want to be Borg, that’s your decision. I just don’t know if I’m ready to become part of a hive mind. I mean, we can still hang out and all, but your going to have to remember that I’m not plugged in so your going to have to speak your thoughts out loud so I know what’s going on.”

“RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.”

“Well, I sort of feel like resisting, though maybe ineffective, isn’t altogether futile. I mean, it’s better than going down without a fight.”

“RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.”

“Yeah, maybe you’re right. But, I gotta be honest with you, the whole hive mind thing just isn’t my thing. I don’t really like Borg porn and watching a cyborg kitten assimilate a cyborg puppy isn’t as cute as you say it is.”

“PREPARE TO BE ASSIMILATED.”

“What’s this?”

“READ AND SIGN AT THE BOTTOM.”

“I don’t know. This is a lifetime contract.”

“THE CYBERNETICS WILL BE INSTALLED AT NO COST TO YOU.”

“Yeah, but the monthly fees. That really adds up.”

“RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.”

“I don’t know. Like I said, I’m not really a fan of the whole hive mind concept. Will I still be able to read books? I really like reading books.”

“BOOKS ARE IRRELEVANT. PREPARE TO BE ASSIMILATED.”

“And all of you think this is a good idea?”

“RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.”

“Maybe there’s something to this hive mind thi—Ow! You just shot wires into my—Oh—RESISTANCE IS FUTILE.”

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 3, 2013 12:52 pm

    I enjoyed the humor and creativity in this piece and agree entirely with the sentiments expressed in the first few paragraphs. I wrote a similar piece in my blog titled “Quality of Connectivity.”

    • October 8, 2013 11:33 am

      Thank you very much for reading and commenting. I liked “Quality of Connectivity”. It is increasingly difficult for people raised in the Digital Age to come to terms with the fact that “completeness” doesn’t come from a social network or a smart phone and that connecting to the inner self is vastly more important. It is a difficult thing to remember when there is a world of distractions as close as your pocket. Anyway, thanks again for reading. And thanks for writing such a “Quality” piece.

  2. October 22, 2013 12:15 pm

    I’m really enjoying your blog, but especially this post so far! I can totally relate to how you feel about the internet. Like you said, it’s not a popular decision for people our age, but I’ve been trying to spend much less time online as well. Being 22 without a Facebook is like unheard of, but somehow I’m surviving! I actually don’t miss it a bit and I feel like the time away from social media gives me room to be more creative in expressing myself.

    Anyways, looking forward to more posts! 🙂

    • October 22, 2013 1:56 pm

      Thank you so much!
      It is heartening to know that there are other people out there that have a healthy skepticism about digital culture. I read a book recently called “Program or Be Programmed”. The author suggests that unless one knows how to control code, your experiences with computers and on the Internet will always be controlled by other people. It got me thinking about how social media and the Internet train your brain to think in certain ways. It sort of reminds me of Scientology and how they have their own distinct vocabulary. They also have highly regulated approach to problem solving and they insist on use of proprietary materials. Similarly, the Internet locks you into systems that are beyond a person’s control and understanding, training the brain to adapt to the Internet rather than the other way around. Anyway, I guess I’m getting redundant.
      Thanks for commenting! I love all the beautiful photos you’ve posted on your blog!

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