I Did a Reddit Ask Me Anything


On Thursday, I did an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Reddit, talking about some of the subjects covered in Borg Like Me. There’s one question asked (and my answer):

Question: In the book The End of Absence, author Michael Harris points out that we are the last generation alive that remembers before the InterWebNet was born. I’m no Luddite, I may be online too much since my health forced me to quit my very physical work. I find it harder and harder not to want love and reinforcement from my social media “friends”. The 56K ping of a modem dialing still makes me smile. As a borg and jacked-in to the world as you are, how do you cut those wires, now invisible? Is it even possible?

Answer: You know, as someone who’s been such a breathless cheerleader of all this virtuality, I’m started to become annoyed with certain aspects of it — like the constant desire for “thumby” validation on FB, the endless selfies, and endless kitty-cat videos, pop culture memes, etc. I think, in many ways, the maker movement is a reaction to such overwhelming virtuality — going back to getting our hands dirty.

I think we’re going to need to learn to be far more digitally self-disciplined, to have unplugged days. I’ve been thinking about taking off from socmedia every other day, as an experiment. It’s staggering to think the amount of lost productivity to socmedia and online frivolity and self-absorption.

When my son was in grade school, they had a media literacy class, to teach kids how to be critical of media, advertising, internet content, etc. I think we need a similar thing for online presence/digital self-discipline: how to effectively manage your usage, how to parse socmedia content and weed out the growing satire/hoax content, how to balance online and offline human connections, and so forth. I think Doug Rushkoff is onto something with his recent book, Present Shock.

Read the entire discussion here.

Life on the Fringes of Cyberculture: An Interview with Gareth Branwyn

Gareth Branwyn, by Scott BealePhoto: Scott Beale

Vice Magazine’s Motherboard did an interview with me last week. You can read it in full here.

Motherboard: You’ve described yourself as “Cyborg-in-Chief” in the past, and your new book is called Borg Like Me. Why the cyborg label?

Branwyn: I am literally a cyborg. I have a cobalt-chrome and titanium hip, a rebuilt heart, and every six weeks, I go to a Rheumatologist’s office and I sit there for three hours while they slowly drip tweaked mice proteins into me—a biological that’s used to treat a severe form of spinal arthritis.

But I think we’re all actually cyborgs at this point. We wear glasses, contact lenses, hearing aids, take all sorts of sophisticated drugs (and in my case, bioengineered proteins) to adjust our biochemistry, we carry a brain annex around, forgotten in our pockets, and we spend many hours of every day soft-wired into the global brain and media spew of the internet.

An Interview with Gareth Branwyn