I enjoyed reading “Feminism, The Body, and the Machine” By Wendell Berry.
I also believe reading his essay “Why I won’t buy a computer” before reading his other essay helped me understand him as a person a bit better. While possibly a bit stuck in his ways and left for dead in a world that’s moving a bit too fast for him he doesn’t seem bothered in the least. Not owning a computer in this day and age is looked at with extreme skepticism almost bordering on distain. “How can a person live like that?” Well, Berry will tell you how, AND why.
You can’t help but respect his opinion on the matter he goes so far to explain in great detail as to why he doesn’t own a computer: “To make myself as plain as I can, I should give my standards for technological innovation in my own work. They are as follows: 1. The new tool should be cheaper than the one it replaces. 2. It should be at least as small in scale as the one it replaces. 3. It should do work that is clearly and demonstrably better than the one it replaces. 4. It should use less energy than the one it replaces. 5. If possible, it should use some form of solar energy, such as that of the body. 6. It should be repairable by a person of ordinary intelligence, provided that he or she has the necessary tools. 7. It should be purchasable and repairable as near to home as possible. 8. It should come from a small, privately owned shop or store that will take it back for maintenance and repair. 9. It should not replace or disrupt anything good that already exists, and this includes family and community relationships.”
While reading Berry’s essay I didn’t see much Postman connection until I got to the part where Berry was talking about technological progress. He says, “Technical progress has produced a social and ecological decline.” Which is something Postman had mentioned in his essay. In fact I think that was a pretty broad part of what the Postman essay was all about.
Reading further you can’t help but think Berry is cut from the same cloth as Postman, albeit a much broader piece. They both believe that technological advance has cost us as people and could in fact be slowing us down even if it simultaneously speeds up production. They believe we may be shedding our happiness participating in a technological arms race that has no end game.
Ultimately they are both unicorns of this day and age as we live in a world that outgrows its previous beliefs every new minute. Are we really losing our morals and sense of self by participating in technological advances? To some extent I believe it is possible but I feel it may be the people who never had much sense of family and social awareness in the first place who are the most effected. Most of us who were raised right will be able to participate in modern society relatively unscathed. While children who didn’t have parents involved to teach them properly and were left to technology may ultimately suffer.
There is a happy medium between participating in technology and still remaining socially aware. We just have to find it.