Paul Virillo demonstrated his complex mind and philosophies the very first chance he had in Open Sky. It’s easy to allow his thinking and writing to go right over the reader’s head but the basic concept and direction in which Virillo is going is blatantly obvious. Virillo sees mass communication as a poison or pollution to society similar to those existing in the natural world (climate change, dying animal populations).
Virillo stated there was a hole or vacuum in space created by technology. There’s no longer a natural gap between someone in Paris and another person in Tokyo. They can now connect and communicate within a click of a computer’s mouse. It is unnatural for humans to be able to communicate at the high speed they are currently communicating at.
That somehow puts unneeded stress on the world and it’s communication systems because that leaves us with less time to simply react rationally. As Rene Char puts it, “Eliminating distance kills”.
Virillo thinks it is healthy for the human population to have a barrier between point A and point B. In today’s world, we simply can make one single point where A and B fuse together on one single computer screen.
This thought process should make us all ponder: “Would the world be better if everything were simpler?”
In hindsight, the answer is yes. There would probably be less war, terrorism, economic depressions and recessions, and social issues. However, it feels like Virillo forgot the positive contributions that an “instant messaged” world provides us.
It allows us as human beings to branch out and discover new places and people. It allows us to see the turmoil going on around the world and that creates a better overall awareness of what is going on in the world.
Doctors, lawmakers, teachers, and law enforcement can use the technology of today’s age to instantly communicate the important information within the law, medicine, education and crime scenes. That can create better lives for millions of people.
It’s important to understand Virillo’s perspective. He’s right. Instant communication can be a source of time-space pollution. However, the positives of a digitally enhanced world cannot be ignored.
1. Is advanced communication good or bad for the world?
2. What problems have occurred due to the rise of telecommunications?