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News From Futuro

The New Luddism and the Social Natives

Para ler em português, clique aqui.

Anita Boa Vida’s photo for Todo Mundo Quem project

Jamie Bartlett, a scholar of the effects of technology on the organization of society, in his column in The Guardian appropriates the expression “reformed Luddism” used by Blake Snow author of Log Of, to explain the current relationship between society (and of course, of individuals) and technology. The term “Luddism” was given to the movement of weaving workers against the machine owners, at the very beginning of the industrial revolution.

With a much less radical approach and a higher compatibility to the 21st century, Bartlett invites us to update our perception of the term. The author finds a correspondence in the critical posture of the luddites regarding the social and political impacts of technology, and uses this analogy to translate the moment of maturation that we are experiencing in relation to the uses of technology. More significantly, it seems that we are awakening to the fact that there is a cost in just accepting (without disregarding the effects), incorporating and above all, not being able to dissociate itself from technological realities.

Great agents are involved in this more skeptical look at technology. An important notion in this view is “time spent in front of the screen,” which in addition to becoming a co-efficiency, it is actually a concern today. Anya Kamenetz is an expert on the subject and after researching families, she wrote “The Art of Screens”. Armed with quite pondered arguments she at no time opposes the use of the screens, but of their exacerbated and solitary use. Following the same path as the ex Google’s employees and Samsung, Apple announced that the new iPhone system will allow users to see how much time they spend in front of the device.

Let it be noted that we are more critical and that this does not mean more pessimistic, but rather the contrary. Refining our form of analysis and understanding technology means developing the ability to relate to it. So that one can choose the best ways and possibilities that will guide the forms of use and consequently the dissemination (and domination) of the new technologies. Regardless of the technology, we are dealing with, it is necessary to envisage that its use and scale are capable of potentiating our society individually, collectively, subjectively and democratically.

Drawing a parallel, I thought it is interesting to comment that this critical look at the effects of technology goes well with some lessons learned from “Todo Mundo Quem?”. A study that aimed to find out who are the 100 million Brazilians that aren’t on any social network and what they thought. A project of my co-authorship along with Filipe Techera.

By speaking to these people of all over Brazil, we have been able to identify structural reasons for which they do not adhere to social networks, such as lack of financial access and digital illiteracy. However, as a result of this critical moment of technology, we find the Social Natives, a name that we created to identify the group that includes people who have access (financial, educational, social) and who nevertheless choose not to be part of any social network.

The Social Natives are on the Internet, pressing play on Youtube, learning English and guitar online. The Social Natives are on the Internet but choose to stay off social networks. They have consistent arguments for talking primarily about the negative impacts of networks on our subjective, individual, and social relationships. Even when connected, the choice not to migrate their social relations to social networks becomes an issue not always well interpreted, sometimes considered as a conservative or antiquated decision, an oblique understanding ends up directly interfering in the formation of their social and professional ties.

Artificial Intelligence in the coffee, a smart assistant for a morning snack, a cyborg for lunch and the materialization of transhumanism for dinner. Undoubtedly, humanity is taking on a project of technological amalgamation, so it is fundamental to highlight the role of questioning, analyzing and creating spaces for free opinions and decisions on how to incorporate and relate to technology.

With regard to a couple of external fractures in democracy and individual privacy rights as a result of technological abuses, I believe the review of the Luddism movement is quite pertinent. Not only because it identifies and places us in this current moment of our relationship with technology, but mainly because this perception leverages the need for critical and cutting-edge thinking about the new uses and ways of incorporating technology.

Shining light on new possibilities of relating (more precisely communicating), the Social Natives go against a conservative or anti-progressive interpretation. By making a personal choice of how to use a technology and manage their relationships, they are questioning automatic adherence (and obedience) and addressing that new thinking that is ready to challenge the standardization of technology uses and offer more free choice use it).

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Uma newsletter preocupada em ampliar a visão crítica sobre a sociedade, a cultura e a tecnologia — numa vibe pós-estruturalista, metafísica e feminista.

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Luiza Futuro

Luiza Futuro

Flâneuse & Researcher

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