How wired is your life? (by Santiago Zabala)

October 8, 2012

AlJazeera recently featured an excellent article by Santiago Zabala, ICREA Research Professor of Philosophy at the University of Barcelona in its opinion section. In his article Zabala emphasizes that in our digital world, in which the internet and social networks have become as common as “the air we breathe,” critical thinking is more important than ever.

Some quotes from the full article:

It is interesting to notice how often this question is answered simply by noting the amount of time we spend online (following the US presidential campaign or admiring MOMA‘s online collection) rather than by qualifying our ability to interpret the wired world, that is, to remain autonomous.

Recently, I tried to answer this question in a different manner by emphasising the distinction between wired and online users. While the latter avoid using the internet as much as possible to protect their autonomy, the former immerse themselves in social networks regardless of the personal information they must sacrifice.

However, this difference does not point out how fundamentally wired our lives are and how this entails that our existence will always be involved as a consequence rather than an option; that is, no matter the amount of time we spend online, we are wired. We seem to be living in a condition where, paraphrasing Descartes, “only the wired exist“.

When we interpret, we seek not only to understand the data that confronts us, but also to add new vitality to the information, that is, to contribute to produce an alteration. Without such change, the data or news obtained will always overload us, that is, alienate or control our possibility for emancipation.

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