A Cyborg anthropologist and Distracted Driving

As often happens, events link.

Increased application, by the police, of British Columbia’s Distracted Driving law has drawn media coverage. Even though 32,000 tickets were handed out last year it will now be even tougher to talk, hands-on, on a cell phone, apply makeup, text, game or program the GPS while driving.  According to RCMP reports, “distracted driving played a role in 32% of fatal collisions that occurred in those parts of the province under RCMP jurisdiction. In the area covered by the Lower Mainland Detachment that figure rose to 48%.” Serious. (Read more:  http://www.theprovince.com/news/Police+target+distracted+drivers/4200908/story.html#ixzz1CpipoMXR)

The impact of changes introduced by technology ripple in many directions.

Amber Case, in her TED talk, explores some of the philosophical and psychological implications of our new cyborg status – humans augmented by technology.

The fact, which we now take for granted, that we can “stand on one side of the world, whisper something and be heard on the other” does something to us. Though we are seldom aware, we now operate with multiple understandings of time, which may be why we always seem so short of it. Case maintains that every single device we use generates a different type of time.

Technology opens doors to multiple selves, as most of us with any online presence know, whether through Facebook, Twitter, a blog or some other means. Is the real self a compilation, a mixture, one over the other, a tag team?

The new reality demands new language.

Ambient intimacy. Those who have tried to be in a meeting or conversation with someone texting know something of this. “Not that we’re always connected to everybody but, at any time, we can connect to anyone we want.” Case worries that the ability to connect with anyone in our phone book, anytime, anywhere, also carries loss. “One I’m really worried about is that people are not taking time for mental reflection anymore. They aren’t slowing down. “

From a spiritual point of view, the worry is that we leave no space for God and forget how to practice discernment in this instantaneous, button clicking culture. Perhaps, as the technology accelerates, renewed interest in classic Christian practices begins to make sense. A lot is at stake with the ability to pay attention – body, soul and spirit.

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