ACM - Computers in Entertainment

Survival of the Human Bee

By Ashley Yeo

“Connected: An Autoblogography About Love, Death & Technology" is a documentary that analyzes the true meaning behind “being connected.” The film explores the technological connection and interdependence between living things, including humans. 

Amidst the occasional funny scenes and touching speeches dedicated to her father, Tiffany Shlain, the director, captures the essence of her 80-minute film in one simple question—What does it mean to be connected?

“Connected” illustrates how important it is for human beings to not live as individuals, but as a significant entity contributing to a larger ecosystem. Tapping into Shlain’s analogy, we are like bees in a hive, each scheduled for a certain task, but nevertheless interdependent to ensure the hive comes together and the colony thrives. But unlike these insects, the unrestricted, intelligent human brain enables us to go one step further. We are blessed with the ability to exercise our brain muscles to see the bigger picture, to see the connection between things and people, to understand networks, and use this knowledge to fuel societal progress.

This whole process is well facilitated by technology, especially with the advent of the Internet. Shlain suggests that using the Internet not only connects us virtually, but also allows us to exercise both the left and right brain—generating important knowledge and emotion to enable connectedness amongst other people. More importantly, we as a human race require this sense of connectedness to survive and feed our insatiable appetite for connection, either with other people, things, or devices. Realizing the importance of interdependence and links between every entity in the planet, dead or alive, will also allow us to see ourselves as part of nature­­—the bigger picture—and reprioritize to maximize success, efficiency, and progress of the world as a whole.

So how does it feel to be connected? “With connection comes responsibility,” says Tiffany Shlain. Perhaps when we finally understand the essence behind connectivity, then can we appreciate being connected and use it for reasons greater than ourselves. The essence of technology is not to result in beings becoming resources, as German Philosopher Martin Heidegger would say. As Shlain’s film illustrates, our increasing use of technology should result in a tightly integrated community and, eventually, an ecosystem that can help the world progress. A progress that will not come at the expense of connectivity or lead to isolation.

After all, Gaia theory tells us that the earth is a single organism, and our primal connection to it is something we should never forget.

 

Editor's Note: The film is available on iTunes at http://bit.ly/11mPosX.

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