Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Am I On Team Human: A Social Media Project Approach to Overthinking Things

Am I on Team Human? It seems like an odd question. On the one hand, what other team would I be on? Not only am I a member of the human species (the most obvious reason for my allegiance) but I’m also a member of the “humanities” discipline, ostensibly dedicated to researching, cataloging, examining, and spreading what it is to be human.

The question of whether or not I am “on Team Human” references a podcast titled Team Human. I stumbled upon it looking for something to listen to on a long drive. It’s hosted by Douglas Rushkoff and features thoughtful and thought-provoking conversations with experts across a range of disciplines as they examine the intersection of technology and humanity. Rushkoff’s tagline is that Team Human is the “last best hope” for humanity.

I’ve listened to a half dozen or so of these episodes since my initial stumble upon them, and I recommend them. They’re interesting, and they definitely touch upon relevant questions that we should be asking.

That said, I haven’t been able to figure out if I align myself with “Team Human” as an opposition force. Am I against the rising technology around us? Do I believe that it is negatively impacting (or even eradicating) humanity? Can I be on Team Human if a robot vacuums my floors?

While many of the episodes in this series have caught my interest, it’s the very first one I listened to (which is actually a two-parter) that has stuck with me. I listened to the first part in its entirety without distraction as I drove a very long and uneventful stretch of Midwestern highway, and then I listened to the second part on that same stretch of highway heading the other direction two days later.

For both episodes, I was left vacillating rapidly between cries of “YES” and “are you fucking kidding me?” This is unusual. Something that makes me move between total agreement and almost angry disagreement so many times is . . . worthwhile? Intriguing? Probably sitting at the intersection of some contradiction worth exploring?

The episodes in question feature a conversation between Rushkoff and his college best friend Walter Kirn (author of the novel Up in the Air that became the George Clooney movie). The conversation is easy and engaging, and it winds through several different topics. I tried to summarize what I agreed with and what I disagreed with, but it didn’t work. The concerns were too tangled, and my own thoughts were bouncing too quickly into subtopics, wandering off into the woods.

I’ve been wanting to unpack my thoughts on this conversation for almost two months now, and I’ve finally decided that the only way to really do it is to listen to it again, pause when I get to something that makes me have something to say, and then write about it.

So that’s what I will be doing. I’m going to find out if I’m on Team Human or not. And if you have an interest in the intersections of technology, humanity, and the future of both, you might be interested in giving these episodes a listen and asking yourself that question with me. (Part 1 is here; Part 2 is here). 

Photo: Mike Mozart

No comments:

Post a Comment