After thinking more about what I wrote last night, I’ve come to realize (yes, it may indeed be the bleeding obvious for most people but it took me a whole night to see it in such clear terms) that airplanes and mobile phones get us absolutely nothing in terms of “making the world smaller.” All they actually do is make travel less informative and transcendental.
For the average person, flying cross-country on a plane is not something to do at will, all the time. It’s something that you have to work toward—hard labor and “saving up” for months or even years to afford the plane ticket. Most people vacation how often? Once a year. It still takes you a year to cross the country or travel to a distant nation. Only now, instead of seeing the country and having a year’s worth of “experiences of the journey,” a year’s worth of living, all you get out of the deal is a year of labor in your cubicle, N+1 hours on a stuffy airplane, plus a quick, unsettled day or two, far out of context, at your destination.
Yeah, yeah, I know, alienation, it should be as clear as the nose on my face, always. But I guess when theory sticks its great dirty nose into your personal life, you reflect on it. We haven’t saved any labor, the world isn’t any smaller, we’re not more prosperous in modernity. Instead, our time to reflect on these things and work through them phenomenologically has been surgically removed from our Conscious (big ‘C’) lives and transmuted into the object for us: cubicle time into material, cubicle time into instant distance, cubicle time into food. We have just cheated ourselves out of the experience of life. It still takes as long, and the results are similar, only now we have to spend all of it stuck at work instead of being on the road, in the fields, etc.