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Trading Spaces: Meatspace meets Cyberspace

When I signed up for this class, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. Due to the stressful nature of YES, I picked out several writing seminars and I narrowed them down based on what fit with my other classes and what I could actually get into during the 6:00 am mad sign-up rush. As fate had it, this class became my first year writing seminar, and I have to say I couldn’t be happier, but it didn’t start out that way.

As we started the class with Neuromancer I immediately couldn’t help but wonder, “What did I get myself into?” I am fairly incompetent when it comes to technology (when I try to use my roommates printer, it’s just embarrassing) and I have always avoided science fiction at all costs. Neuromancer confused me and made me feel like I’d made a horrible decision because I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. As I struggled through this book, and the following texts, though, I formed a new appreciation for this new genre. I slowly began to see the emotional and human side in this technical world. Infused in all of the computer jargon, are feelings present in everyday life. And since the first book, there has been a constant presence of the combination of meatspace and cyberspace.

As Kaitlin shows in her post about social networking sites, we use technology (cyberspace) to represent out personal lives (meatspace). Through posting pictures and online comments, the Internet becomes a source of communication and human connection. She also argues, that cyberspace influences meatspace as well. ‘These sites define our generation,” she said, showing their impact on the world outside of the Internet. Cyberspace and meatspace both influence each other in a variety of ways.

This combination between the two worlds can also be seen in Aimee’s post Cell Phones in Our Skin? As she addressed the electronic cigarette, she showed how it combines humanistic elements with technological ones. She related the inevitability of a union between meatspace and cyberspace to Neuromancer, as she said, “I would even take it a step further and suggest that Gibson might be warning his audience that this phenomenon could take place in the future; maybe he believes that someday we won’t be able to tell the difference between cyberspace and meat space.” This comparison continues as she stated, “The blurring of cyberspace and meat space climaxes in Neuromancer when the reader is no longer able to clearly determine which realm the narrator is describing. Perhaps the electronic cigarette is the first step in the full consolidation of humans and technology.” Aimee’s post shows how these two worlds may not only be influencing one another, but might be completely fusing together. Will we ever come to a point when these two spheres are indistinguishable?

Alexie touches on the implications of this combination in her blog post FaceTime: Bringing Us Together, or Apart? She addresses how technology influences people’s social and interactional skills. “There have been many arguments that technology is a force of depersonalization; that people are beginning to have ‘cyber personalities,’ completely different from whom they are in person,” she said. This argument is followed by another possibility that FaceTime is actually reversing this trend, making people talk to each other, rather than text. This post touches on the variety of directions these new innovations can take us.

Nobody can be certain where technology will lead society, but it is this issue- a battle between meatspace and cyberspace- that has intrigued me throughout this course. At the beginning of the semester, I saw technology as fairly distant from my life. I knew I used it, but I didn’t think it influenced me in such a humanistic way. My eyes have been opened to how much cyberspace and a technological world impacts my relations with friends, with work, and with general interests. I cannot escape it. I have been oblivious to how much my life actual does rest in cyberspace. Aimee pointed out the argument that one day “we won’t be able to tell the difference between cyberspace and meat space,” but for me, maybe that day is already here.

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