“It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.” Said by Albert Einstein when asked about the future relationship between humanity and our technology. In the current fast pace society, we demand speed and convivence with every aspect of our lives; whether it is faster internet, faster vehicles, smart phones, or AI. As a society technology has become so entrenched into our lives that we cannot go through our daily lives smoothly with out it. Technology is rapidly evolving and provides many benefits to society. You are connected to any information available and anyone on the planet with one click of a button. However, despite the benefits from advancing technology, it has many negative impacts on our welling being as well. Although technology easily connects us together, it has created greater isolation in our society. In Emily St. Mandel’s science fiction novel Station Eleven and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein develops the idea of isolation of individuals through the damage of their relationships with friends and family with the progression of technology.
In Emily St. Mandel’s novel Station Eleven, we can see the reflection of deteriorating emotional connections and relationships from technology abuse. Through the whole novel, technology was painted as problematic to society and individuals. In chapter 26, Clark Thompson interviews a woman named Dahlia, and she complains that her boss is engrossed in technology that he is a “high functioning sleepwalker” (Mandel 161) and is living in a “corporate world full of ghosts” (Mandel 161). Dahlia clearly criticizes the role of technology in our lives and how it’s turning us brain dead and blinds us from the world. Advancing technology has allowed us to skip the middleman and receive services at an unprecedented speed and efficiency removing more human interaction. Jobs such as mail carrier, news anchor, cashier, and clerks have been replaced by apps and self serve kiosks. A step of human interaction is gone which promotes individualism but results in a decline in relationship values. When Dahlia refers to this world as full of ghosts, she is criticizing everyone connecting through technology instead of in real life. Technology gives us independence, but reliance leads to neglect of society and others. Another example is Garett, when Garett talks to Clark about his past it quotes “Garett had a wife and four-year-old twins in Halifax, but the last call he’d made was to his boss. The last words he’d spoken into a telephone were a bouquet of corporate clichés, seared horribly into memory” (Mandel 49). This quote shows us the emptiness Garett experienced with technology before the fall of civilisation. He was wasting his life on corporate duties and couldn’t even use technology to talk to his family.
In the novel Frankenstein, isolation from technology is developed through Viktor Frankenstein and his obsession with creating new life. Frankenstein is paralleled to most teenagers and young adults today, as we are slowly becoming more dependant on our phones and the internet for social interactions or entertainment, we slowly lose grasp of our real-world relationships. Moreover, Frankenstein even from his college days has dedicated his life to advancing biological technology, from this he neglects his relationship with his lover and friends. At the beginning of the novel, Frankenstein falls in love with Elizabeth; however, later into the novel Frankenstein becomes engrossed in creating the creature which causes him to form a wall blocking Elizabeth into his life. In chapter 5, Elizabeth writes a letter to Frankenstein confessing her love for him, saying “I love you and that in my airy dreams of futurity you have been my constant friend and companion” (Shelley 130). As Frankenstein writes back to Elizabeth, he discusses his secret and dedicates one sentence to tell Elizabeth how much he loves her. Another example is his relationship with henry, we can see that Frank stein expresses his withdrawal from his friend Henry by saying “I saw plainly that he was surprised, but he never attempted to draw my secret from me; and although I loved him with a mixture of affection and reverence that knew no bounds, yet I could never persuade myself to confide to him that event which was so often present to my recollection but which I feared the detail to another would impress more deeply” (Shelley 66). Keeping the creature, a secret forces Frankenstein to isolate himself from Henry. Many technology dependant individuals show symptoms such as loneliness and depression. They have created an escapist world on the internet which leads them to forget the relationships that they have in the real world, the care of warmth of the people around them.
Gender is a critical theme in both Station Eleven and Frankenstein, we can see genders through different characters throughout both novels criticizing and pondering how gender roles are structures within society. In Frankenstein we can see that Viktor Frankenstein epitomizes masculine attributes with logical and composed personality, and dedication to his work rather than domestic matters. The creature parallels Frankenstein as he is fixated on finding a mate and revenge, in the quote “I will work at your destruction, nor finish until I desolate your heart” (Shelley 156) shows his determination to his goals. These two characters shows what male architype is like. In Station Eleven we see different male and female dynamics through the novel. One example being Miranda and Pablo, Pablo being a struggling artist is jealous of his successful girlfriend Miranda who created the graphic novel Station Eleven. Pablo is jealous of her better art style and overall success at maintaining her job and staying happy. This jealously leads him to brood around in the apartment and not care for Miranda or their life together. This shows what happens when a individual doesn’t live up to the expectation of his gender. Pablo isn’t logical nor is he composed, his jealously shows that men are able to experience a emotions stereotyped to woman. This gender imbalance is paralleled by the damage of technology on inter-relational well being. Advancing technology is destroying relationships similar to stereotyped gender roles developed by society.
Technology can create damage greater than relationships alone, as technology advances the more ethical moral dilemmas regarding its use arise. The most discussed would be the usage of genome technology; now for less than 80USD you can send a saliva sample to a lab company to see your full genome unravelled on a app. You can now know what truly makes you unique. This can also lead to advancing methods of gene manipulation, such as gene splicing and cloning. For example, the ethic of cloning is wildly debated, the human right uncertainty has made many politicians and philosophers ponder whether a cloned animal or even person should be considered the same as the original. Whether artificial life is considered to have humanity like us. Another wildly discussed technology is neurohacking and the dangers it comes with. Being able to alter and manipulate your own mental state and psyche, or even other has made people question whether this technology should be allowed or not. Does your mind belong to only yourself or are companies allowed to access your mind for data? The moral dilemma of what is reality will come into play when individuals alter their own psyche. There are many dangers that follow advancing technology other than being a blockade for social interactions.
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As technology grows, the less control we have over it which will cause damage to us in the end. Research supports that technology has made our lives faster and more efficient; it is a necessity to a growing society. But obsessive use of technology will cause isolation between individuals and their loved ones. The more time individuals escape to the virtual world the more disconnect they experience with the things that truly matter in life. Novels such as Station Eleven and Frankenstein develops the idea of how being engrossed in technology will be the cause of our downfall. The characters in these stories have sold their life away to technology and now must live through it. Both authors can illustrate what life will be like if the readers abuse the growing technology around them. Both authors suggest that although technology improves our daily lives, we should not excessively use them. We must use technology to improve not only our lives but our relationships as well.