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Technology anxiety and why we need an apocalypse

I was just reading a fascinating article my friend linked on Facebook called ‘Where technology goes next will change us all” by Craig Simms which describes the future of technology as being like magic, that we don’t want it out for all to see, but integrated completely with our lives. He writes of the development of Project Glass by Google to be a turn to cyborgs. “Humans are the next device to plug in.” Wall-E shows a similar future, but has an adorable robot that falls in love and inspires humanity.

This interests me on so many levels, but it’s one of the comments below the article that got my attention and made me think of my dear zombies and cultural anxiety. MariaK1 wrote “I find this article incredibly depressing and if I had money I would be tempted to move to the country and avoid the whole stinking mess.”

I thought of the article completely opposite: a wide viewing of the reach of the human imagination. I thought more of Star Trek and its utopian future rather than the bleak Battlestar Galactica. This is probably due to my upbringing as a nerd.

Technology becomes scary, to me, not just when used for war, but with the unintended side effects. When robots rise up against us, when our lives have such little meaning because technology sustains us so long that we no longer seek to produce anything ourselves but become mindless consumers.

Starting to sound familiar now?

It’s very much a theme of the film Surrogates with Bruce Willis. People don’t need to go outside anymore, they just lay down, hook into a robot, and the robot goes out and does all the work for them. Imagine the muscle waste from laying down so much and doing nothing! Where most of society goes about in these robots, there is a community living in a separate area that are against the use of surrogates and that humanness is the apex of society, not the technology.

So back to zombies. It could be technology used to extend life (Cybermen are sorta zombies maybe?) or radioactive waste that infects people (Redneck Zombies!), or just in general scientific experiments to see how far human life can survive, or maybe exposure to aliens or alien substances (space dust in Fido, facehugger things in Half Life). With the zombie apocalypse, we are forced to strive to survive for any significant amount of time; we must create, build, plant, and grow as the stocks in the stores won’t last forever. Survival is not just for the next day, but for life.

The major theme/moral/etc of so many stories is that technology and its conveniences make us weak and further from nature/true goodness/godliness/whatever and prevents our evolution. That’s why we need a Wall-E, a Greer, a Zombie Apocalypse to ‘reset’ us to this natural state.

Vampire love can be nothing but tragic

We all know zombies are far superior boyfriends than vampires.  Vampires are pushing, demanding, patronising, cruel and have a very twisted idea of love. Zombies never want their loved one to lose their independence or give up their dreams because of them. Zombies don’t require the human to convert to zombiism, and don’t encourage it. Zombies love you for you!

And of all the terrible vampires to have as a boyfriend, Edward from Twilight takes the sparkle. He is straight out abusive, as is the other love interest in the series, “Shirts chafe” Jacob. There are so many academics who pick apart the Twilight series for its screwed-up-ness, and perhaps the scariest thing of all is that people see this cruel relationship rife with domestic violence and domination as a relationship to crave!

One of the things I love about the world and humanity is our insane curiosity and desire for meaning which leads us to such incredible in-depth analysis. A book is never just a book! Bordieu said something about art (which I got from an art class at uni, but can’t find the direct quote), that art styles do not develop independently but rather they develop out of particular social interests. Can anything created be separated completely from the context in which it was created (not meaning everything is a direct analogy)?

Anyway, the main thing I wanted to share was this awesome analytical piece of the Twilight series (ignoring all the horrors of the English language that take place within) about how it’s really a tragedy of the loss of who Bella is, her soul. It’s a very well done piece, and I not-so-secretly wish the author would write a whole thesis on it (I’m a geek, I know it, and I don’t care who knows it!)

Read it here on Reddit!

The cult of zombie

What is a zombie?

Dead
Irressible hunger/consumption
Mass/Horde
Emotionless
Rotting
Mindless
Loveless
Without society
Chaotic
Madness
Unstoppable
Contagious
Unintelligent
Mute
Disease
Rage
Monster

But most of all, the zombie is in our image. They are another form of us, an evolutionary byproduct, a mutation. That’s the scariest part of all.

Zombies have been singled out as representing a lot of issues or societal fears:

  • Aids
  • Terrorism
  • Racism
  • Consumerism
  • War
  • Disease (a bit of an obvious one)
  • Obesity in the Western World
  • Technology
  • Aliens
  • Religion
  • Capitalism
  • Politics
  • Refugees

I was discussing on twitter with a mate yesterday about what makes a zombie a zombie. Must they be undead? Must they be mindless? They definitely don’t all eat brains, actually very few do (there is Return of the Living Dead, whose zombie going ‘Braaainnns’ I have as my sms tone on my phone…because I can). Almost all are cannibalistic, and their disease is highly contagious, whether by blood or bite, but that’s not always been the case as zombis (without the e) from Haiti were sorcerer’s minions.

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Away from zombies for a moment, what do zombies mean for humanity?

People must forget emotional bonds in order to survive, kill their loved ones if bitten/infected or else risk undeath themselves

People can’t afford to work against each other (which often isn’t the case in many zombie works). Trust is important as people are forced to work together if they want to survive.

People are more equalised during a zombie invasion. Of course, those who can wield a weapon or shoot are of the most important, but other’s can help to scavenge supplies or keep a look out.

Things become so petty. Money, position, power. Of course, not everyone is willing to give those things up.

George Romero has said in an interview that it’s not so much the zombies and what they represent, but what the humans do, how we react, that is what is really important. Humans don’t always do what is best for themselves, and in some cases (not that rare), are actually quite stupid. I’m one of those people who yell at the TV “Don’t do that!” or “I bet she’s going to do X…oh yeah, there she goes, screwing it up.” My sister is worse than me, although her focus is on vampire evolution (and she is the B-grade movie queen).

We can’t always think straight under pressure, and a zombie apocalypse is a lot of stress for anyone, but in a lot of cases it is the society we have at the moment that is the basis for our not surviving well in the future (near, far, wherever….). We’re too comfortable at the top of the food chain, we value that which isn’t essential (gold, money, etc), we are selfish and self-righteous. Some texts even ask: are we worth saving?