Trailer Time: A Single Word Can Insert Doubt

So, I watched this trailer:

I like the concept.  I think I could enjoy the book.  But…

Technology is a word commonly associated with computers and other devices which we use to manipulate the world around us.  We think of technology as a product of post-industrial civilization.  Many people recognize that technology poses (almost) as much of a threat as a benefit to us.  Science fiction is a genre that frequently tries to raise awareness about the dangers of technology.

But there’s a problem with all of this.  Technology is, technically speaking, anything and everything we make or use that gives us an “unnatural” advantage to survive, thrive, and dominate our world.  Yes, computers are technology.  But so is rope.  Yes, cars are technology.  But so is the wheel.  Yes, bulldozers are technology.  But so is a lever.  Humanity thrives because we use technology.  We are the dominant species on this planet because our brains allow us to invent and use technologies to give us advantages over competing species.

Therefore, the idea of outlawing technology is specious at best.  We couldn’t do it and survive.  We couldn’t build castles (shown in the video) or make swords if technology were outlawed, because both are pieces of technology.

Obviously this objection has less to do with the trailer itself and more to do with the concept and the misuse of a single word.  I admit that.  Sue me.  But…I’ve simply had too much education both within and outside of school to let this pass.

Thanks to our technology, we are a society of buzz words.  Technology itself is a buzz word.  But that doesn’t mean the way we use it is accurate.  If you want to reach an intelligent, sympathetic audience that is willing to suspend disbelief, and you want to do so in writing, then you have to take care with regards to your accuracy, especially with buzz words, and especially when using buzz words as a dominant part of your concept.

A willing suspension of disbelief is necessary for the success of all fiction.  You can blow it with a single word, because a single word can plant the seed of doubt.

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About Stephanie Allen Crist

Stephanie created and produces ComeSootheYourAchingSoul.com in answer to a call from God to use her experiences and gifts to help others. Stephanie is also the author of www.StephanieAllenCrist.com and two books that can be found on that site. Stephanie strives to share her love, faith, and talents in an inclusive manner to help others who know spiritual pain and who know the bitter taste of the dregs of despair.
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8 Responses to Trailer Time: A Single Word Can Insert Doubt

  1. acflory says:

    I totally agree with your definition of technology but I can’t think of a better word to use in its place. There is high tech and low tech, with low tech being anything that has become ubiquitous amongst humans. There is also ‘new tech’, but according to the trailer, this is old tech that has been banned. -shrug- There doesn’t seem to be a word for the kind of technology that can destroy a whole planet.

    In terms of the trailer though, I’m not sure the story will explore the very real question of choice involved with all power. I’m very much against genetically modified food – mostly because of the lack of consumer choice – but I wouldn’t ban all research into genetic modification just because I believe Monsanto et al., are the anti-christ.

    • That’s the problem with buzz words. Sometimes what we mean cannot be expressed in a single word, and when we try to force a single word to fit… Well, it doesn’t work well.

      I agree that technology can be dangerous. I would particularly agree that food supply technologies are problematic. I’m less worried about “genetic modification,” another buzz word (phrase), and more worried about the seed companies making farmers dependent on them with sterile seeds. The US, for example, can produce more food than we need. Some of it we trade, but a lot of the excess is held by the government. Some is held in case of crisis; some is distributed to poor countries in crisis.

      These seed companies can produce seeds that are resilient to climate and pest problems faced throughout the world. We have the technology. If it were used to create ideal seeds in countries that struggle to produce sufficient food supplies, then those countries would be less dependent on food hand-outs–they could grow their own. Because these engineered seeds are made sterile, these people can’t use them, because they can’t earn enough selling their crops to buy the seed every year.

      We are pushing the envelope with “genetically modified” foods, but I sincerely doubt there are any “genetically pure” foods left. Genetic modification is just a step beyond cross-pollination, which is something we’ve been doing to one degree or another since the advent of agriculture. I’m sure there will be consequences, but it’s only really a matter of degree as far as how technologically-manipulated our food supplies are.

      To me, however, the bigger moral bankruptcy is how we hold our technologies hostage in favor of profit when the world cost of those decisions is in millions of human lives, political destabalization, and perpetuated violence. We can feed every human being on this planet. We have the technology. But we can’t do so and ensure profit for everyone involved. We choose profit. While profit itself is not a bad thing, profit at the expense of human life is another matter.

      Technology itself is not evil. It’s how we use it.

      • acflory says:

        Sadly, when the big agri-pharmaceuticals went into GM, neither they, nor anyone else knew as much about how genes work as we do today [or will know tomorrow]. Back then they didn’t know that a lot of the junk DNA was not junk at all. They also did not know that combinations of genes are even more important than single genes because those combinations determine how a particular gene will be expressed. They literally used a shotgun method to insert new genetic material – tiny particles of gold, coated with the new genetic material was shot into the cells. I believe viral vectors are used these days.

        My point in all of this is that such forced change is NOT the same as the breeding that occurs in vivo. It’s like the difference between hammering a square peg into a round hole or inserting a round peg. One fits perfectly, the other may do the job, but the stresses and strains will eventually be expressed in some kind of failure.

        When it comes to drugs, the testing protocols are extremely thorough and go on for years. They are also very expensive. Monsanto et al., got around those protocols by convincing the FDA that GM was ‘substantially equivalent’ to conventional DNA.

        So, GM food crops have not had the rigorous testing required of medicines voluntarily taken by sick people. Yet GM has been snuck into the food chain to be taken by EVERYONE. Without even a label to allow consumers to choose whether to take that untested product or not.

        We will not know what unexpected side-effects GM has on vulnerable populations for many years. And even once the results start coming in, the water will be so muddied that it will be almost impossible to hold the GM companies to account. A win-win for Monsanto et al.

        Apologies for going on and on like this but it is a subject that makes me furious as my daughter has a condition that could make her one of those vulnerable populations. 😦

      • I wrote a nice long comment, and then it disappeared. If it reappears I’ll delete this one.

        Anywhoo…

        I’m not saying you’re wrong, but just that it’s a matter of degree. The fact is that breeding plants has caused problems. So has transplanting plants and animals. Anytime we go mucking about with stuff we don’t really understand we run the risk of making things worse instead of better…and we do it all the time.

        I do empathize with your concerns. Fact is my own children may be sensitive to that kind of stuff, too, and there’s very little hope of tracking it all down.

        So, I get it. I do. But, at the same time, it’s not like we, as human beings, are going to stop doing stupid stuff because we don’t think through the consequences.

        See, there’s this great stuff called DDT. It kills bugs. More food. Yay! Except the poison persists right up the food chain until it starts killing off the birds and mucking things up. Oops!

        Oh, and all this stuff we’re dumping into the air, no big deal, right. Air is big. It’s huge! It can take it, right? But there’s this nasty bit called smog. It settles in a cloud over a town and kills people in their sleep. Oops!

        And the examples go on and on and on. But we still do it.

        I’m not saying it’s right or good or that we shouldn’t fight it. Just that we’re fighting human nature. And greed. And we, as a race, have a whole lot of both going on all the time in so many different ways it isn’t even funny. Sometimes I can’t help but feel we deserve what we get. We’ll blow ourselves up or burn ourselves up or something and, eventually, the cockroaches are going to take over. Maybe I’m just feeling pessimistic, but sometimes it feels inevitable. Other days I’m pretty sure dolphins are smarter than us. Sure, we have all this technology and we’ve spread ourselves all over the world…and they just know better. They certainly seem happier. *shrugs*

      • acflory says:

        First – WP has been eating some of my replies lately too!

        Re your comments about human nature… god I wish I could disagree but I can’t. 😦 On my good days I’m sure the good part of our nature out-weighs the bad. On bad days I wonder what kind of world the cockroaches will build once we’re gone. :/

      • Yeah, I’m pretty much in the same place there, with good days and bad days.

        The more I think about it, though, I think the dolphins have the advantage. Cockroaches are sturdier, of course, but I’ve never heard tell of a cockroach having fun. And I’m pretty sure a better world has to do with learning to enjoy ourselves without hurting each other.

      • acflory says:

        I admit I’d really resent handing the world over to cockroaches. Dolphins however would be an improvement. 🙂

      • 😀 I agree completely!

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