Team 4 Synthesis

Brooks Tiffany

Transparency was the central theme of our discussion and I believe that the “red pill vs. blue pill” idea is central, not only to transparency, but to all the ideas we discuss in class. Transparency, double-clicking, truth, hypocrisy, mendacity, ambiguity, and the “house of mirrors” all begin with whether or not you really want to know. Our class discussion demonstrated the divide that exists here: ignorance is bliss vs. knowledge is power. Both statements ring true but as a class I think we have constantly returned to context being the determining factor on which side of the “know” we prefer to be on – would you want to know that the clothes you are wearing were made by young children in a sweat shop in China? I would. Would you want to know the intimate details of some celebrity’s wild night downtown? I couldn’t care less. But both questions are asking if I want to know information that may or may not have an impact on the way I see the world.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we keep touching upon individual perspectives and how those unique perspectives interact differently with “the internet” and “the technium” – this tells me that we influence these “entities” just as much as they influence us and they are, in fact, not deterministic forces that will continue on regardless of human input. All humans seem to have a “red pill vs. blue pill” choice about a multitude of things and it is these choices that are directly shaping and directing “the internet” and “the technium” in a variety of different ways.

Erika Lower

It's striking, and perhaps a little disturbing, that elements of The Matrix have become metaphors we live by on a day-to-day basis: the gritty dystopian futures we've told stories about for years all seem to be coming true in all sorts of terribly mundane ways.

I tend to struggle a bit with the cynicism rampant in these sorts of discussions: I'm much more of a Kevin Kelly than a Morozov, and the suspicion, resignation, and general aura of doom that seems to hang over many of these topics is distressing to contemplate. But cynicism, as our class discussions highlighted, might not be a bad thing after all — it's a coping mechanism in this "house of mirrors", a way to distance ourselves from the distortions enough to try and make sense of half-truths and an idea of "transparency" that's really only translucent at best.

The range of reactions and opinions presented in our discussion was particularly enlightening, because it shows that even when presented with the same information about the nature of truth on the internet, we all deal with it in unique ways. Like Neo, we'll need to decide for ourselves whether to take the red pill or the blue pill — but we're going to have to make the choice again and again and again. As Brooks so aptly put it, ignorance is bliss but knowledge is also power — and deciding which we value more in any given situation will have long-term consequences for us all.