Cyber-nating Humans

One click on a mouse is a giant leap for mankind into its cybernating home.

Inquisitive nature of humans led us so far as a new form of dwelling. What was considered as empirical mode of existence in a sensual world as in opposition to intangible spiritual world, turned out to be insufficient. We humans started to dwell in an alternative space and time of the web!

We could not resist and did not attempt to resist to this new ontological structure. When Martin Heidegger in Being and Time wrote that he cannot say what being is and for that reason he is interested in how being is, he called us to study the phenomena of Dasein‘s being, how it discloses itself in space and time. Today we see that Dasein‘s being is inseparable from cyber weltanschauung. Our worldview has changed and the structure of existence has altered.

Now we hibernate our computers at night so that in the morning they could be ready for cyber-nation at a single press of a button. Then, instead of saying „good morning“ on the screen the computer informs about its hibernation act. As soon as it is „on“, it allows us to cybernate and to dissolve the entire individual personhood in the realms of the web. The cybering web embraces, engulfs and entangles human mind. Human mind fuses with the web. The signs, links and various referential totalities of networks leading to yet other networks and their sub-networks interweave and interlace with the human mind, its thoughts, decisions, and reactions.

When the web functions well, the internet environment appears as a presence-at-hand (Heidegger‘s “objective” observance), but when the web dysfunctions or when computer slows down, when viruses destroy important documents or when suddenly a file does not open, we experience cyberish readiness-to-hand (Heidegger‘s personal involvement and Seinsfrage). Cyber anxiety strikes us because the referential totality in which we‘re involved does not work. Seinsfrage surfaces as soon as cyber tool dysfunctions. Suddenly we experience ourselves as the shepherds of our being. This time we take care of our existence not in the woods nor on a farm nor in a factory, but a computer desk. Needless to say, anxiety arises at a computer desk when the significant computer and its cybernation do not function properly. And that indicates that virtual cyber space is no longer virtual. Human existence at least partially has already been transferred to the web. If so, there is nothing virtual about it.

Aristotle believed that a human being is a political animal. Hannah Arendt calls our attention that Aristotle has been mistranslated: his concept of a political animal has been used as of a social animal. But there are many other social animals, but for Aristotle only a human being is zoon politikon. According to the Philosopher‘s logic in his book Politics we‘re predetermined to create a state. Being political animals we cannot avoid creating a state just like an acorn is predetermined to grow into an oak tree.

Today witnessing our obsession with internet, zealous communication on the web and strenuous efforts to shift information from tangible paper to virtual websites, it is rather obvious that speaking in Heidegger’s terms humans don‘t feel uncanny with it. Quite the opposite – acts of daily human voluntary cybernation bespeak of feeling canny, comfortable at home. Perhaps that tells us that humans are predetermined for cybernation? After all, for the home comfort on the web we create various web identities, personalized e-mail boxes and addresses. Desktops have family pictures and the attics and cellars of “my documents” store saved files, pictures, articles, books, references, music, films, instructions. And all of it is available on a lap, be it at an office or at home or on a plane. The dwelling forms on the web tell something specific about the direction that human inquisitive nature has taken. Can it be predetermination? Has political animal discovered the second cyber nature?

The immediate question is: if we are predetermined by nature to dwell on the internet, how come that only at the end of the 20th century we started doing it, whereas humans created a state as political animals practically four thousand years ago. But if one is to ask further – how come humans as political animals failed to create a state during their long evolution of Homo sapiens? – Then same answer applies to the creation of the web: centuries and millenniums may pass till we discover for what else we‘re doomed to be determined. Homo sapiens species discovered themselves as political animals and formulated that in the political philosophy of Ancient Greece. Certainly it wasn‘t a self-evident characteristic of our species that tended to spent thousands of years with low life expectancy in caves. For the political nature of a man to surface we needed a long way to go. Neither political nature nor cyber nature has been a self-evident truth for thousands of years.

Till Columbus it wasn‘t obvious that the Earth is round. Rather the opposite was more obvious. Till Copernicus and Bruno it was incomprehensible that the Earth is not the center of the Universe. Thus, it doesn‘t come as a surprise that till the end of the 20h century human species failed to discover themselves as internet dwellers. But once we discovered that as a tool, we rushed to turn it into an end – our new dwelling space. As much as internet virtual space and time is a means for work and communication it is also a home. It is our space and time that we enter every day for pleasure or for strenuous work on selected sites. We google ceaselessly and there is no end to e-mail communication. Written Word and PDF files with research info, concepts and paradigms circulate in the galaxy of the web. In that galaxy we do our research. There we learn no longer leaving the home as the web is the new cyber dweller‘s home.

A computer is very much unlike a cave only by its physical size and functions. It is very much a cave from the perspective of human mind-set cocooned in the web. While the mind soars infinite internet sources and while the eyes are focused on browsing and googling, the body of ours remains outside the realm of the web. The body is not needed there. While the mind cyber-nates, the body hiber-nates. Not without consequences – motionless body for hours, days, months and years at a computer desk bends, fattens, stiffens. Only finger tips press keyboard or do the clicking on the mouse. The rest of the body is just there, more like an attachment to the mind that simply is. The body made for motion is certainly suffering from discomfort. Thus, the second human cyber nature applies only to the mind, but not the body. The computer once again reminds us of the old philosophical dichotomy between soul and body. Just like in the Middle Ages the material body was considered inferior to the immortal soul, today in the 21st century we‘re witnessing that as a bitter empirical truth – only the mind enters the web leaving the body with its organs outside the new cyber home. While the mind is in the web, the body is at its best can only be next to the web. While the mind cyber-nates, the body merely hibernates.

The body by a computer, old or young, fit or obese, feels itself as a completely unnecessary attachment. Perhaps the eyes and finger tips deserve an exception to the rest of the body parts: aching back that turns into a humpback or legs that are under the computer desk simply dangling free without purpose. And if there is purpose for the rest of the body then it is for the delivery of the brain as close as possible to a computer. If some day such bodily problems will seem as very backward of the 21st century, it will be due to the quantum leap in the evolution of human cybernation.

Perhaps in the next millennium we‘ll have new species of the cyber humans. Not those those are virtual in cyber-culture so popular in South Korea. Perhaps the new cybernating humans won‘t need neither body nor its eyes as wireless internet will be directly communicating with the mind. The magic chip in the mind could do the trick. The nexus of the mind and the web would create oneness. High intellect would finally get what it deserves – perfect conditions for eternal contemplation. Isn‘t that what Plato considered to be knowing Forms/Ideas? Web-mindedness would detach itself from the body in entering perfect human cyber-nation. Judging from what we see today, it should be the next logical step in cybernation of humans. The speed of purposeful and global cyber-nization bespeaks of such a direction.

Even a new web-world virtue ethics has developed. Not so long ago it was normal to answer e-mails in a week time or after a few days. Today a good tone of professionalism requires an immediate response. If you delay you may loose important contacts or information or opportunities. But for that you have to be „connected“ to the web. If you‘re not on the web, you‘re outside of it, which much worse than to be outside of the „empirical” world. Constant availability on the web is considered to be a virtuous behavior.

It is already unethical for a professor to ask an administrator for various info, because you may find it yourself on your organization‘s intranet. But it has become ethical to ask for electronic reminders instead of verbal ones from a person who is standing in front of you in the form of human bodily flesh and blood. Since that reminder is about a job on a computer it is better to receive an electronic reminder. As the result, cybernation proliferates, verbal communication decreases. Flesh-and-blood human standing here-an-now with empirical presence is substituted with cybernating human on the web network. The new virtual cyber communication replaces the former superiority of empirical presence. Moreover, it is more often considered to be more virtuous to communicate on the web rather than in person. Personal e-mails has become the new communication in person. In many cases it is considered a more advanced contact in person because e-mails leave an option to think before a reply and they give an opportunity to ignore unwelcome ideas.

Publications on the web is another area of our cyber-nization. Journals, publications, books, profiles, contact information that are not on the web may not be accessed, may remain on dusty shelves of local libraries, archives. Electronic archives are searched and browsed from work place, whereas tangible ones are left for antiquarian book collectors. Thus, publishing on the web is academically advanced and virtuous. The popularity of the face book can easily be called face-book-ization, which is a private life‘s web-ization. Personal sentimental photo albums that used to be shown at privately organized social gatherings now are globally exposed. Social gathering on the web erased the distinction between privacy and publicity. Privacy exposed publicly has also became viewed as virtuous act as it connotes one‘s open-mindedness and inhibition.

Even employees of virtualized banks look down on customers that are reluctant to make transactions on the web. Electronic banking is considered to be virtuous, up to date. True, one may still has a civil right to reject all electronic Master cards and electronic accounts desperately clinging to empirically tangible cash. One is still entitled and eligible to enter “a real building” of a bank, show “a real” not virtual ID and ask an employee for a transaction to be done. And that is for anything — be it for the utility bills or for a balance sheet. But in such a case you will be asked: „So you don‘t have an internet access?“ That is what I mean by cyber-nization of humans: if you don‘t cyber-nate in the web, you‘re either an alien or a cave man, a pre-historical fossil. Moreover, as a backward person in such a case you also fail to possess virtues of a cyber human.

Indeed, we have not even noticed how a completely new virtue ethics of virtual-electronic world developed…

Those virtues of the virtual world are being developed further everyday, but along with the proliferation of the infinite world of codes, pin codes, passwords, usernames, nicknames, and – yes – the acronyms. Cyber-nation is even impossible without self-conscious self coding, pin coding, pass wording, user naming, and – yes – self-acronymization. It is a condition for cyber-nization. Cyber-nation even created a completely new language of acronyms. And we‘re quite comfortable with it. We even like that style. Thus, paraphrasing Aristotle, we are not only zoon politikon, but cyber-zoon as well.

Cyber-zoon can stand for a new human acronym. Especially today, when living in a state-city-polis is no longer sufficient. Where ever you are, you please be connected. Just as CNN — for the occasion of Island’s volcano eruption – reporting on stranded passengers in the airports, said STRANDED, BUT CONNECTED.

Cyber world is not just a step we have made. It is a leap in evolution. It reminds the words of Neil Armstrong on the Moon: “One small step for a man is a giant leap for mankind.” Only in this case it should go as follows: one click on a mouse is a giant leap for mankind into its cybernating home.

P.S.
Even this very web page of Baltic Philosophy Network is known as Balphin and its featured members are called balphin-ians.

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