Thursday, October 2, 2014

Mobile phones and the enclosure movement

I think the reason mobile phones caught on so fast is we spent most of our evolutionary history able to instantly communicate with the people we loved, because they were always around. We were in little packs or little tribes or little towns and you could just wander over and say "What are you having for dinner?" or "What is that thing he's wearing doesn't he know how silly he looks?" or "Look at what my cat is doing haha!" or "Wanna come back to my place?" etc. Like it's deeply in us to be able to talk to the ones we love at short notice.
That gets destroyed, for my ancestors anyway, by the enclosure movement. Land that was previously understood to be commonly accessible was forcibly enclosed by the wealthy; walls and fences were put around it and trespassers were prosecuted. But that was the land we ate off - we hunted and fished and foraged on it. Once that was gone we couldn't feed ourselves; to feed ourselves we had to swap our labour for money and go where the work was. We went to the cities and the cities grew and our families fragmented into little bits.
For a long time we kept a lot of these habits though, and got to know the people who lived nearby even if our families were far away, but it gets eroded more and more as we have to keep going where the work is. After enough generations of that geographic churn who knows anyone? And who has their family and all the ones they love within walking distance? Not me. You're all dispersed through space.
So of course when things come along to collapse that space, to make everyone present and immediately available for conversation again, we leap at it. It's what we've done for millennia and instincts like that don't just go away. To the people who got used to the loneliness of the recent past it seems weird, like WHY DOES EVERYONE HAVE TO BE ABLE TO TALK TO EVERYONE CAN'T THEY JUST BE ALONE FOR FIVE MINUTES but they're the odd ones, if you live in deep time. Being comfortable to be alone is only a virtue in a society that wants to split everyone up and starve them so they have to go where the money is. The rest of us want to be with the ones we love. We want to talk to each other. X


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