Saturday, February 24

Between life and television

The analogical condition is often used to define situations with outdated characteristics, something out of fashion, and the collective imagination often associates this condition with the idea of ​​something from another time. The attitude of banking in Spain, initiated after the financial crisis and accelerated by the pandemic, fits like few other things into this conceptualization, with the abandonment of its traditional services in favor of exclusively commercial activity, the closure of branches and the suppression of jobs, with the enthronement of apps and with the abandonment of rural Spain and neighborhoods, and, as a consequence, with the consequent queues of people, many of them retired, at the doors of the increasingly scarce banking entities .

In this same sense, a recent study carried out in the Basque Country on the delay in students’ knowledge during the period of confinement in the pandemic, shows the gap between telematic teaching with respect to face-to-face teaching and, in turn, between teaching public education and concerted education, in favor of the latter.

Primary care, with its inseparable nature of science and human relationship, had also been displaced in recent years by technological hospital care and has now rushed, as a result of the pandemic, towards telemedicine, which has accentuated the crisis of its community care model and with it the discomfort of citizens. A discomfort that has been experienced in a special way in the field of mental health.

So, according to what has been written in recent times, banking, education and community health care are some of the most paradigmatic examples of the analogical-digital transformation that citizens are undergoing, and that are laying the foundations for a gap so deep that it is actually a true social and democratic deficit.

Digitization has been able to play its tricks very well. To this we must add that the coronavirus has been a great catalyst for the transition and digital transformation. To all this is added that the balances that allowed the world’s democracies to maintain their position with respect to the social state have been altered with the catastrophe that the pandemic has meant. This can be perceived in particular in different areas of life such as health, education or public administration and with a contradictory balance that is sometimes positive and often negative.

Given the importance of digitization for the world, it seems important to also remember that European countries and their democratic nation states have lost geopolitical influence in favor of cyberspace. In addition, these countries were governed during the digital revolution within the framework of EU legislation which, despite developing very advanced regulations in the field of ethical and democratic values, and in the regulation of cyberspace, such as in terms of data protection, however, it continues to drag a significant previous deficit, fundamentally derived from the distance of its institutions from the citizens.

That is why this historical context, as well as certain issues derived from the digitization phenomenon, may be worrying for those of us who believe in democracy. And here, we understand by democracy, like Hanna Arendt, the active participation of people in decisions about public affairs; that is, something more than the mere protection of certain fundamental individual rights. It cannot be forgotten that we are in the midst of a war (and not only of ideas) against the way of life and values ​​of democratic societies and we are heading towards a new bipolar or multipolar scenario in which a very large part of the world population is governed by autocracies.

A less aired aspect so far in the analyzes that have been made of digitalization without control has been that of the transformation that it is producing in our lives in different areas. And it shows that the great offensive against the values ​​based on the approach of the administrations to the administered does not only come from the banks, but also from the public administration, from some of the most important bastions of the social state such as the public health service and, even, of some universities and educational centers, with their obsession with telematic attention and their telemeetings, in which participation, therapeutic human relationship, teaching in values, democratic control and debate are more difficult and therefore both the task of the services and their management bodies, orphans of personal relationship and face-to-face opposition, easier and at the same time less diverse and enriching.

Our future largely depends on how we resolve the way out of these latest crises. Judge Natalia Velilla highlights in one of her articles that we are part of the first generation to encounter the enormous change that the information society has brought about. Changes happen so quickly that the remains of face-to-face relationships seem like a memory of a time characterized by other democratic values, little less than outdated, values ​​that respected a culture based on human relationships. This does not imply that we have to renounce the advances that have come from the hand of technology, but our present, and the future, cannot be dominated by a dependent relationship with technology for which, on the other hand, we are not yet prepared. Therefore, the recipe of digital education is not enough in the face of the problems that arise and those that lie ahead. Because it is not only that everything that is most typical of the telelife that of the human relationship and that, paradoxically, the opportunity to devote maximum attention to other multiple possibilities of digitization, such as care for dependent (and non-dependent) people, has also been lost. That is not all. Autocracies fish in that troubled river.

The lack of human relations could come to prevent, and is already doing so, that individual personalities come together in communities, so that it will not be possible, therefore, that broader interactions of some peoples with others result from these. In short, there is a question that especially concerns us and all of us: we need to understand that without relationships a human world is not possible; a cybernetic world will be possible, but not a human one.