Sarah Morgan

Healthcare Geek.
Professional Communicator.

We Could Be Heroes

Marshall McLuhan talked about media as extensions of our human abilities. He said that the purpose of a technology was to take what we can do naturally and make it go faster, stronger, further.

He said that in 1964. Exactly how blown do you think his mind would be today?

In just my couple (okay, few) decades, I’ve seen the internet make time and space shockingly irrelevant. I have access to most any person or information in the world and in history – anytime, anywhere, any language, instantly. The effort of learning and communicating is almost gone.

Although the effort of discovery and analysis and relationship is just as big as ever. Which is worth remembering.

This article says that we have superpowers – that the internet has given us super-human abilities. But even if so, superheroes had flaws. Superman had kryptonite… Spiderman was kind of a dork…Wolverine had those tragic sideburns. My point is, what are our flaws? Have our newly acquired superpowers made us forget our inadequacies, at our own peril?

When we abjure this rough magic – give up our technological superpowers – we feel the loss. But don’t most people come back from time away from technology pleased? Don’t we speak (with surprise) about how nice it was to be unplugged, how peaceful – how lovely it can be to remember what life is like without those alluring abilities?

Maybe that’s why superheroes always seemed charmed by the idea of hanging out with simpler people. It’s nice to not use your powers all the time.

Perhaps that’s something we should remember more often.


Jose Bay

But Sarah, you’re jumping to step 2, without stabilising step 1. Yes, I can go on a chat room in France, buy some artwork & talk to someone in a chat room. But they’d still be all ‘strangers’.

Anyhoo, I’d much rather pivot & base my actions on interaction or changing the world via my ‘local’ neighbourhood & start/work myself up from there, but that’s logistically like climbing Mt. Everest . 🙁

I did an assignment on a former politician who was nearly the Australian Prime Minister in 2004, & a lot of his books (6 or 7 published) focuses on local neighbour’s ”cone of silence”. Are you like me, despairing at how little we know about those next door or down the street?

Not in a ‘sticky beak’ or opposite of ‘minding your own business’ regard – but just those awkward silences at bus stops, parks, supermarkets that I’ve even seen my sisters in elementary school give to lapsed friends.

Sarah Morgan

I think the Internet’s ability to make geography irrelevant is actually much more superhuman than its information storage, Jose.

I can go to the other side of the world and get information, have a conversation, make a purchase, whatever – right now! That’s pretty amazing, when you compare it to just a generation ago.

That said, I’m a huge proponent of handwritten planners, journals, letters, cards and thank-you notes. (Also love: grammar lessons and sentence diagramming.)

It’s lovely and meaningful and traditional. And writing helps me learn better than typing or watching.

Jose Bay

I still firmly believe we, as in that Get Smart spy comedy show with Maxwell Smart & Agent 86, we human live in a ‘cone of silence’. We still have to cue, cajole & groom each other in the ‘real world’ to conjure any semblance of an emotional response. That requires social skill, grace & tact which can’t be practised easily or readily. To be blunt, I think we’re all VERY much advanced & isolated in The West.

The only thing superhuman about the Internet is abating the need for ‘rote memory’, though I share you sentiments/like your comment about ‘effort of learning is gone’ (damn you instant gratification & all you sociologists coining that term!) & the rest of this nice, smart & unexpected post from the one & only, non-‘Mistaken Identity’ Sarah Morgan ;).

PS. Our relatives, grandfathers & grandmothers had to learn thing the old slow non-computerised way. No iPhones, keyboards or mobile phones for them. I’m ambivalent about people using a pen & pad – one it is ‘dowdy’; aka a woman’s ultimate fear of being out of vogue & fashion…but at the same time for me it’s appealing as you’re prepared to buck the ‘elitist’ trend of using all that ‘expensive’ gadgetry & doing things the old fashioned ‘proven way’ like our forefathers did it.

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