Can Our Humanity Surpass Our Technology?

January 31, 2011

In our family, we talk a lot about the rapidly disappearing art of human communication. With the exploding technologies of email, texting, and tweeting, much of what was once reserved for human speech and personal interaction has been replaced by fingers on a keyboard.

While the new technologies are incredibly useful, they can also be debilitating to our ability to connect to each other emotionally.

I am struck by the way the two favorites for this year’s Best Picture Oscar so perfectly illustrate that conundrum.

On the one hand, The King’s Speech is all about the human art of communication and how two men come together to conquer a challenge to a person’s very ability to speak.

On the other hand, The Social Network focuses on how technology, in the form of Facebook, has provided  a new way to communicate while at the same time it allowed its founder to lose himself, and perhaps part of his humanity, in the technology itself.

Both are wonderful, thought-provoking, sensationally made movies.

Can our humanity indeed surpass our technology?

From Chapter 16 of  Bringing Back The Old Hollywood:

An Emphasis on Our Humanity, Not Our Technology

As with society itself, the magic of story telling (humanity) has been overrun by advances in film technology.

Many of us feel that the modern onslaught of technology has been so pervasive that our hearts and souls desperately need a breather.

Do we want our humanity to be controlled by our technology or the other way around?

Just because we can do something technologically does it mean that we should?

In 1968, the brilliant Stanley Kubrick gave us a preview of the dangers of human reliance on technology in 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the film, a spaceship is run by a computer called Hal 9000. When questioned about its reliability, the computer responds: “The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.”

Right after that, the computer terminates the life support systems of the crew who are in suspended animation, kills another while on a mission outside the ship, and then attempts to murder the last remaining crewman before he can disconnect the computer’s brain.

By eschewing a reliance on technology and big budgets, The Old Hollywood will have the freedom to explore films that give our humanity a chance to at least catch up with our technology.

And, who knows, maybe the depth of our humanity can even once again surpass the limits of our technology.

What dreams may come, indeed.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren January 31, 2011 at 10:57 am

Beautiful Blog Stephen! So true and so eloquently written!
Love you


Maggie January 31, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Loved both of those movies — I loved how the music really drove Social Network and kept the feeding frenzy going. The sound was bad in the theater where I saw the King’s Speech, at least for the first 20 minutes, I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying. That was an interesting and ironic twist on the film experience. I will rent it and see it again.


roslyn halperin February 9, 2011 at 3:07 pm

i think the fact we can email and communicate with people all over the world will bring us closer.
I don’t trust our news
The History Channel censored .. The Men Who killed Kennedy- the Love Affair which i recommend on You Tube.. about Judyth Baker
the mistress of Lee Harvey Oswald. OR read ME and LEE .
OF course our information on 9-11 has also been censored.
Thank God for technology. I doubt the movie Inside Job about our banking system could make it on TV either. I’m glad we are still
free to email…


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