I was wondering about technology and metamodernism: ¨how can technology be accounted for, from a metamodern point of view¨. Below are two answers, but I would love to hear from other people from the metamodern sphere.
Gary Forrester: My tentative answer flows from modernism and postmodernism. Each of those previous paradigms was, to a considerable extent, driven by technology.
Modernism was prompted in large part by the technologies of the two world wars, the spread of photographic images, the beginnings of film and recorded music, the impact of radio. These technological advances (or in the case of the wars, these technological horrors) were accompanied by, and causally related to, the migration of people from rural environments to the cities, where they worked in technology-driven factories.
Postmodernism was not so much a break with modernism as a new sensibility that came into its own when technology exploded in the 1950s and 1960s and thereafter through the rest of the 20th century. You can’t read a worthwhile text on postmodernism without coming across the profusion of images – computers, the internet, 1950s commercialism, billboards, space exploration, television, etc. Postmodernist detachment and the overwhelming intrusion of technology into the lives of individuals and societies go hand in hand.
Postmodernist technology both strengthened and weakened. It strengthened by empowering average people and people who had previously been on the margins, by making them part of the conversation. It weakened by diminishing peoples’, and artists’, and society’s senses of responsibility and universality.
Metamodernism is the child or stepchild (or step-grandchild) of its 20th century ancestors. The technology hasn’t gone away. It continues to evolve, apace. Metamodernism doesn’t, and could not, shy away from technology. It has to embrace it. Hopefully it will embrace it with a sense of values, and value-consideration, and humanism, at every step and every stage.
Metamodernism, more than its predecessors, realises that technology can be used for good or ill. Climate change is the most pressing example. Technology got us into this mess, and a combination of a new sensibility and new technologies will be the only way out, if there is a way out. The Obama administration’s use of drones is another example – the technology is there, but the real question is whether it is moral or not to use drones in the way they are being used. I tend of course to the anti-drone position, but in fact the question is not as simple as I would like it to be, for the simple reason that there are bad people in the world, or perhaps I should say hostile people who don’t seem to respond to reasoned discourse.
Alexandra Dumitrescu: Technology also connects, and makes presence and communication possible. Like in our watching online videos, sharing snapchats or Instagrams. It is neutral, it’s what we make of it that makes it good or evil. Like all the human givens, like rationality or emotions, not bad in themselves, but how we use them, and whether we allow them to take control over the self – that makes all the difference.