This may be existential but do you consider you electrical device (Smart phone, computers, your radio, etc) are part of you like your arm or leg or as it own being?
Its a tool, that exists for me to use. The frequency of use can make it seem like it is a part of me. I check my phone more that i check my self, which is a bad thing. Our health, and knowledge of self should be more important than social media or these devices. Its something I need to work on.
What if my arm and leg are just tools that exist independent of myself but which I have near exclusive usage of?
So when I interface with other tools they also become part of the machinery hooked up to the me that exists. While the phone is in my hands it is part of the collective that is what you perceive as me but I perceive as both myself and the vehicle I travel the world in, the interface device.
But here’s where it really goes off the rails: where does the core of me start? My eyes are not me, the compression protocols that send the data down the optic nerve are not me, what about the data processors at the other end that run various algorithms on it before sending me the information about what is actually out there in my vision? The caching blocks that remember what colour something used to be so that I don’t have to focus my cone receptors on it and confirm it is still the same colour?
What about the black box pattern recognition system that does puzzles for me? The one that doesn’t operate with any complex reasoning but rather is a highly specialised system for inferring patterns. The one that solved most of the puzzles in The Witness and left me with only a few that I had to actually think myself around with conscious thought. Work that felt like I was actually doing. Is that itself or just a bit of me? What if it was replaced by a different black box? Could it be replaced by a different black box?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say I categorize it in the same breath as my organic body, but it is definitely an extension of myself. I love thinking about this question because it requires you to consider things like where you store the information that makes you feel like yourself—certainly that’s my brain, but to a large extent, my phone and my computer contain a lot of information that “feels” like me… like, I identify with that information in terms of feeling a connection to it. Losing it would feel like losing a “part” of me.
Talking about this, for me at least, invokes a lot of language that makes it sounds like I’d be amputating something that is organic, so my relationship to these things is totally fraught with an inability to accurately assess it.
It’s just tools? So far?
I do kinda think about this a lot. I’m diabetic since age 10, and around 12 I got an insulin pump, which has been in my pocket, connected to my torso, for 18 years. It goes where I go, always. Without it, I get real sick real fast in the form of DKA, etc. It’s always the closest in my mind to a tool that is a part of me. I still tend to land firmly on the side of that being a tool though, which has made it impossible for me to even consider a phone or something being “a part of me.” If it stopped working tomorrow, I’d be back on needles and/or sorting out a replacement.
Even if it’s a tool that has become a part of me, and I feel weird without it. It’s physically connected to me. It deals with my biology in a way that is required. If get out of the shower, get dressed, and forget to put it in my pocket, I know immediately. There’s ALWAYS that weight there, and it’s obvious when it’s missing.
But still… it’s a tool to manage my biology.
I dunno, reading this back I’m certainly on the fence a bit more. Also, if you rely on alarms to keep a schedule, that’s managing your biology for a purpose I guess?
(Edit: But yeah, so far certainly not it’s own being. Maybe soon? I kinda went off on a “a part of you?” tangent.)
I wear two hearing aids. Glasses. An iOS device. A watch. Clothing. Shoes.
Somewhere along there things stop being part of me and just stuff. Hard to tell where. Why?
At certain times of the year, in the region I live in, without clothing - I’d be dead.
Without being able to communicate with the people in my life - I’d be somebody else, I guess. I like being me.
Another way to approach this topic is that we have this bullshit idea of “health”. Using the idea of health - which, I can’t stress enough, is total BS - we arrive at a world where:
- Some people are healthy.
- Other people are unhealthy, or are insufficiently healthy, and approximate or simulate health by using stuff.
This kind of thinking gets us to a lot of errors around individual culpability or “responsibility” in our society. Nobody chose to be born, to inhabit the body they inhabit, or to have the conscious awareness or experience they enjoy. Yet we collectively punish people for needing “extra stuff” to do whatever they are going to do.
All this to say, there are some objects that, were you to yank them away from a person, would be a literally dehumanizing act. If you steal somebody’s shoes, you’re a jerk. If you steal somebody’s wheelchair, you’re a monster. There’s a distinction in there. I don’t know where it is, exactly, but I know it’s important.
When you drive a car, your self expands to include the car. It’s a neat magic trick, one we also do with all sorts of tools. Pick it up and use it, it’s part of what makes a human being be. Put it down, it’s junk.
My phone and computer are tools, but if someone tried to break them, I’d probably kick the shit out of them because they’re tools with a lot of emotional value. Also, shit’s money.
I think in regards to an object I view as more apart of my body, it would probably be my glasses. Because I need them to see.