I’ve heard a few alt-right a-holes say that, to make women happy, we need to un-invent the washing machine and birth control pills. It a strange sentiment that Brietbart and it’s ilk like to purvey (I’m not posting a link, but it isn’t hard to find. I’m not giving them the clicks). But like many of their inflammatory statements, it’s worth examining further. Why the regression of medicine and technology would be of benefit, and why women exclusively? Of course their misogynistic ideals seep above any intellectual content, but if you strip away the sexism, the argument is interesting: The technology of the washing machine/dishwasher were intended to free up our time but have only made us busier and taken us away from a more human purpose. If we were at home doing dishes, we would be AT HOME, not free to go grocery shopping, exercising, or more significantly, getting a job. If clothes/dishes/vacuuming weren’t automated, these issues would have to be resolved before the home life could be experienced. Or, to put a finer point on it, they would become a much more significant PART of our home experience simply by occupying so much time performing these tasks.
You might be saying, “Duh,” but give it a second thought: No matter what your financial class, if you were forced through labor to spend more time in your dwelling, how would you feel about the time you spent there? Would you be more emotionally invested in its well being? Would you feel imprisoned by it’s laborious obligations? You may want to have a prettier lawn. It may make vacations a more valuable endeavor.
A few years ago I bought a VERY expensive drawing tablet. It was called a Wacom Cintiq. It was powered by a litany of cables and a laptop. It featured a great capacity of drawing features. I knew that my process needed to go digital because my work as a commercial artist was always getting converted digitally. To operate in a fully digital environment would free up a lot of my work time and give me an even more expansive skill set that other freelance artist might not possess. As a freelancer, advantages like that are invaluable.
Three years later, I sold that tablet.
It was a great device, really. In many ways, I miss having it. It was full featured and powerful. I learned a lot about my drawing process and digital painting on it. But it did something to me that I didn’t want. It put me in my drawing studio. Alone.
All. The. Time.
I’m married to a wonderful woman and I didn’t like that I would be in the same building as the most important person in my life and not see her for hours or days on end. I hated it. The tablet was large, heavy, and cumbersome. It required a computer and a power source. For all intents and purposes, it was locked into a room and, if that room was devoid of people, so was I. The tablet did free up a lot of my freelance art/design work time, though. What I didn’t realize was that, before it’s implementation, the work time didn’t really fit into my home life.
So I sold it. I bought an IPad Pro. I knew that I wasn’t going to disregard digital art and painting, but something needed to change. The iPad Pro gave me a the highest functioning stylus I've ever used in a digital format, which is completely necessary for art and design. Just as significantly, however, I can carry it in any room or space I wanted. I could be drawing a comic page in the living room with Lily. I get to sit on a chaise lounge and watch TV in the background. I get to be in a space with her and we can share our experiences. I get to put the device down and not have to worry about a bunch of power cables getting unplugged. I get to produce Art and design at a pace much more conducive to having a happy life. I can casually doodle and sketch in a social environment with my friends at a bar or I can sit at home in my underwear and actually get a whole lot of work done for a freelance contract.
I have a compulsory and intrinsic need to produce art and design. It's more than just my profession, it's a passion in my life that can often leave me estranged if my companions don't share it. The device goes with me everywhere now: to figure drawing sessions and friends’ homes. It has allowed me to fulfill my purpose without isolating me from the people and experiences most important in my life.
Look, I'm not trying to be a shill for an Apple device. Fanboys are often exhausting because of their vehemence toward whatever they are fans of. The iPad Pro has done an extraordinary thing for me: It has given me autonomy that technology is sometimes accused of taking away. It allows me to be a part of a world that may not share my interests and gives me companionship and freedom that I would otherwise not be able to experience being hunched over an old fashioned drafting table or a new fashioned anchor of a drawing tablet.
I walk into my home with an automated thermostat and lightbulbs that can change color when I use my voice. In many ways this is very much the Star Trek future we dreamed of as children (minus the flying cars). It's easy for most of us to parse out the shortcomings of our contemporary lifestyles: we're still ruled by a seemingly autocratic system of corporations and politicians and we may become too reliant on technology and medicines that leverage much authority over our lives. I am always looking to see how our species has been altered for the better and worse through the technology that permeates most aspects of our experiences. I can see, however, that my very specific and nuanced situation has been facilitated in a very potent and emotionally important way through technology. For that I am thankful.
I do see that technology is also incredibly dangerous in ways that many of us have not yet recognized, too. Artificial intelligence and virtual reality are remarkable experiences to behold, but could seriously represent the very threat to our species that we did not anticipate. The genie is out of the bottle, however, and I would just encourage all of us to view with and open mind to observe their inevitable integration into our society. But we should also be prepared to make adjustments for the costs that we don't even know we will be having to make on their behalf.