Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Guilt and technology

For better or worse, I've always had an over-developed sense of responsibility. I find I have to actually make concerted efforts to discipline things like 'email time' and 'unplug' to get some offline business accomplished (like reading). It is difficult however, when you feel the 'pull' of people trying to get a hold of you to get this, that, and the other done or your opinion of whatever... etc etc.
Such discipline is an attempt at long term sustainability, and ultimate interest in my sanity and productiveness. I've seen too many people in different places get overwhelmed.

Recently, I've been thinking of the broader themes of my research and possible ways to unify certain concepts I've been working on like myth, modernity, progress, and the like. On the bus ride home one night my brain just clicked into the concept of 'guilt.'

I scrawled some questions in my notebook to the effect of:
Is there something to be said for how guilt may play into people’s motivations to communicate—with home, work, or religious icons? How is guilt being negotiated and techno-mediated in various cultures? Are there historical explanations for manifestations of guilt within entire societies? Might the allure of technologies be their ability to absolve users of guilt, much as people once purchased indulgences for the sins of ancestors? How does addiction link up with guilt?

Looking at my piles of books and sources at home, I got all giddy because my neurons were firing. It was one of what I tend to call "click" moments (aka "Aha")... when it all comes into focus.

Guilt is a powerful concept, and one that I'm exploring as part of the human condition. It's gonna be a lot of work, but fun!

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