Adbusters

The Era of Simulation

Consequences of a digital revolution.

“For the message of any medium or technology is the change in scale or pace or pattern that it intrudes into human affairs.”
—Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media

We are being shaped by the constant proliferation of digital technologies in our everyday lifestyles. The Internet may have connected the globe forever, but the developed world is now completely at its mercy. Terms and conditions apply to our autonomy. The World Wide Web has infused our society with an all-encompassing reliance on media technologies. At any given time we are staring at a screen, listening to an iPod, using GPS or holding our iPhone – the device that combines all the above functions in an intuitive and responsive little pocket tool. With this handy instrument on us at all times we are obligated to communicate and to be tuned in to entertainment and information. We are objectified as “users” not people. The products of our digital revolution run our daily routines. We are no longer free agents – technical extensions to our physical selves have become as vital as a limb or an organ.

Digital media will continue to shape us independently and as a society, by acting as a conduit of experience and by invading our real space and time. How many of us have wasted hours idly surfing the Internet or aimlessly flicking through endless TV channels?

“We are asked to follow pre-programmed, objectively existing associations.”
—Lev Manovich, The Language of New Media

This is what Jean Baudrillard called “the era of simulation,” we are being herded in preordained directions, dictated by omniscient authors. By following hyperlinks on Wikipedia, for example, we are following someone else’s premeditated path through information and jumping from one piece of subject matter to another. All too often users mistake these connections as their own and continually follow externalized thought processes, relying less and less on their natural associations. Similarly, social networks such as MySpace and Facebook externalize relationships, which has fragmented society by encouraging everyone to recede into their new portable plaything rather than sparking up conversation. The BlackBerry smartphone means that bosses never have to leave the office, while microblogging services such as Twitter mean that they can text the entire team to call an all-important emergency meeting in one fell swoop. Escape is futile. As we move from an industrial civilization into an information civilization, we’re online and we’re locked in. Try a digital detox for even just a day, I bet you will fail, I already have.

Zachary Colbert

Thank-you to everyone who participated in this year's Digital Detox Week. Send us your feedback, thoughts and epiphanies to [email protected]. Did you miss this year's detox? Have your own anytime or check out the campaign page for updates for next year.

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116 comments on the article “The Era of Simulation”

Displaying 71 - 80 of 116

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Milo

This essay is way too pessimistic and doesn't take into account that simulations are part of live (think for instance of the walking leaf, an insect that disguises itself as a leaf) I recommend reading the essay 'a society of simulations' by koert van mensvoort which is a much more neutral take on the functioning of simulations. "we are now living in a society, in which simulations are often more influential, satisfying and meaningful than the things they are presumed to represent. Media technologies play a fundamental role in our cycle of meaning construction. This is not necessarily a bad thing, nor is it entirely new. Yet, it has consequences for our concepts of virtual and real, which are less complementary, than they are usually understood to be. " Can be found online here: http://www.nextnature.net/?p=3361

Milo

This essay is way too pessimistic and doesn't take into account that simulations are part of live (think for instance of the walking leaf, an insect that disguises itself as a leaf) I recommend reading the essay 'a society of simulations' by koert van mensvoort which is a much more neutral take on the functioning of simulations. "we are now living in a society, in which simulations are often more influential, satisfying and meaningful than the things they are presumed to represent. Media technologies play a fundamental role in our cycle of meaning construction. This is not necessarily a bad thing, nor is it entirely new. Yet, it has consequences for our concepts of virtual and real, which are less complementary, than they are usually understood to be. " Can be found online here: http://www.nextnature.net/?p=3361

Right in Two

the difference in simulations is that the caterpillar looking like a leaf was not created by man. it is not artificial. the only things that are artificial in life are manmade.

Right in Two

the difference in simulations is that the caterpillar looking like a leaf was not created by man. it is not artificial. the only things that are artificial in life are manmade.

Anonymous

So instead of humans innovating their way out of problems such as global warming overpopulation, you'd rather snub natural human progression and force everyone into such a backward model of society with higher rates of death and disease? I hope you see this as some ivory tower fantasy and not something you honestly think should be implemented.

Anonymous

So instead of humans innovating their way out of problems such as global warming overpopulation, you'd rather snub natural human progression and force everyone into such a backward model of society with higher rates of death and disease? I hope you see this as some ivory tower fantasy and not something you honestly think should be implemented.

Right in Two

*sigh* nature intends people to die. we are fighting nature by having 'miracle drugs' and great health care. overpopulation is just as bad as disease and death.

Right in Two

*sigh* nature intends people to die. we are fighting nature by having 'miracle drugs' and great health care. overpopulation is just as bad as disease and death.

Anonymous

There is no overpopulation. As time progresses we are finding better ways to feed more people. We are intended to die? No shit. But humans are naturally innovative, so why is this wrong? If that’s the case I guess we were never intended to invent anything to improve our lives. Oh no, better get off the internet ASAP, you’re defying natures wish of living ignorantly. Is the gift of life that meaningless to you that you think it should be minimized arbitrarily?

Anonymous

There is no overpopulation. As time progresses we are finding better ways to feed more people. We are intended to die? No shit. But humans are naturally innovative, so why is this wrong? If that’s the case I guess we were never intended to invent anything to improve our lives. Oh no, better get off the internet ASAP, you’re defying natures wish of living ignorantly. Is the gift of life that meaningless to you that you think it should be minimized arbitrarily?

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