Sven Birkerts has argued against the value of computers. He hates computers so much so that he refuses to own or even use any kind of tablet or computer. Birkerts views computers and cyberspace with the sort of disdain saved for your worst enemies. The reason behind this such intense hatred is simple. He believes technology threatens to destroy the subjectivity and individualism of humanity.
As people continue to embrace new technologies, they are losing touch with actual printed words. Books and newspapers have become obsolete with the emergence of tablets, smartphones, and laptops. Birkert sees the death of the written word as an intellectual emergency.
The desire to stay connected continues to grow. People struggle to stay off their iPhone or tablet for more than five minutes at a time. Millions of people are online for hours and hours every single day. It is scary how connected some people feel they need to be their Facebook or Twitter feeds. The constant connection to the cyber world has created a society where everyone needs to constantly be entertained. Attention spans for the average person continue to spiral downwards. Many people also seek to find truth and wisdom on the internet. Perhaps the biggest problem created by the increase in technology is people’s inability to communicate. Whether it be a simple phone call, or face to face interaction, more and more people struggle to actually interact with people in a personal way.
Although Birkerts fears may indeed have some merit, technology and cyberspace is here to stay. Barring some catastrophic event, technology is only going to continue to integrate itself into society. People like Birkert are fighting a losing battle, but the arguments he and others like him have made will hopefully keep people grounded in their humanity.