Saturday, April 25, 2009

Have We Become Dehumanized? – A Reflection on Blade Runner

This past week, the movie assigned for our last movie project was “Blade Runner.” Blade Runner was a film released in 1982 that aims to depict what American life would look like in 2019. A central theme of the movie is the dehumanization associated with the post-Cold war era of globalization, urban development, and increasing technological innovation.
After watching the movie and finishing my part of the group paper, I asked myself what the screenplay writer or director of the film would think today, twenty-seven years after having filmed Blade Runner, and only a short ten years away from the time in which it was imagined to take place. Would he or she find his or her fears confirmed or feel a sense of relief?
Obviously, we can say with certainty today that in ten years from now the world will not look like the one depicted in Blade Runner. Nevertheless, I do believe to a certain extent that we have slightly “dehumanized” since 1982. I believe that this has been to some extent facilitated by technological innovations such as computers, instant messenger, the Internet, and cell phones. These methods of communication have made interpersonal relationships far less personal, as it is no longer necessary to see – or in many cases even talk to people- to communicate with them. As a result, actual face-to-face interactions have greatly diminished, while people increasingly communicate over the Internet and spend more and more time in front of the TV etc.
My point is certainly not this revolution in communications technology is bad. In the contrary there are many examples where this technology is largely beneficial, such as for example African nations using cell phone technology to encourage small-scale businesses, or just simple things such as having a cell phone for emergency calling. And I certainly benefit from the new technology as well, as Skype not only allows me to talk to my family in Germany for free, but also gives me the option to see them on video. However, I do think the point that Blade Runner is trying to make, and one that we should be aware of, is that increasing im-personalization of communication can “dehumanize” us by increasing our sense of alienation. So lets save some “old fashioned” ways of social interaction and communication as well ;).

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