The Environmental Journal

Do Androids Dream of the Environment?

Humans have lost almost all connection with the environment. Mankind has been more concerned on changing their Facebook statuses rather than going outside and enjoying the fresh air of nature. We have lost sight of what is real and unreal.  While losing that sight of what is real we have also begun to feel empathy for things that are not real. We now feel sad whenever our internet does not work instead of feeling sad for the animal population being diminished. In the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick, he explains how  humans cannot distinguish the difference between  an android and real humans because real humans have lost the ability feel any kind of emotion and are more concerned on killing what is unreal, the androids. Philip K. Dick’s book is an interesting read because it shows how human society has become more concerned on chasing the unreal, like searching for items on eBay, instead of worrying about the real, like how we should figure out ways to encourage people to recycle. We have lost the connection to nature just how the humans in the book lost their ability to feel.

Computers and the unreal world of the internet, has become more important to humans rather than experiencing life outside of a computer. In an article written by Livescience staff, we are now using webcams that offer views of wildlife and also having virtual tours of the Grand Canyon. What has happened to actually experiencing road trips to the Grand Canyon or going to the snow and making snow angels? We have become so accustomed to using computers or technology for everything that nature has also become part of the unreal world. We rely so much on computers and technology that tend to forget about the outside world, even our emotions. Philip K Dick also argues that we have become addicted to the use of technology that we have lost emotion to what is real. The characters in his book need to use a Penfield wave transmitter, a device which can control the user’s mood. Even though the book was written in 1968, we can infer that Dick was trying to say that in the future we were going to lose the ability to feel any kind of emotion because we have become so addicted to using technology and have separated from nature.

Another way Dick tries to persuade us that we have lost our connection with nature and our feelings is the use of the empathy box in his book. The empathy box was used to show whether the user was an android or a human. If the empathy box said the user had empathy then the user was human but if the box said the user didn’t have empathy then the user was an android. The empathy box is just like Facebook in the case that one only knows you are human if you have a lot of friends and also update your status every day. We feel like we wouldn’t exist if we didn’t put our feelings to the virtual world.  This image says it all, we have even lost our connection to real friends, and we have virtual friends now that we don’t even know if they are real or not. I am not trying to say that all technology is bad but one of the Livescience staff says it best, when he says, “We are a technological species, but we also need a deep connection with nature in our lives.” Yes we do use technology for a lot of things but we should not let it consume our lives. We should enjoy nature because we never know when the beauties of nature will disappear.

Dick in his book makes animals a key symbol. Since most of the animals in Dick’s book are dead, animals have become a rare sighting and anyone who has a real animal is considered to be of a higher class. Dick is trying to say that nature is the key to our future if we were to ruin the environment in any sort of way that can harm our existence. However, even animals are starting to become fake and trying to the replace the existence of real ones. Not only does that happen in the book but also in our lives today. In the same article by Livescience, the writers write that children are now playing with robot pets instead of real pets. How is a kid supposed to experience a real pet and experience all the spontaneous things a pet does, if it has a robot pet?  Robot pets cannot play catch with you, does not know when you are sad or happy and especially pee all over your floor. Nature is also becoming part of technology just like in the book. Dick writes how the main character Rick figures out that his animal was actually an android and all along he feels like he has been living a lie, just like the kids will feel when they realize their pet robots run out of batteries. The environment is part of us, mankind was born from animals but yet we still tend to go away from our environment. We rather see what the new Xbox game is rather than trying to go help out at a beach cleanup for an hour.

Philip K. Dick’s book helps us see that the environment is not only the key to our future but also to show that we are losing our connection to nature. Like I said before I am not trying to convince you to entirely stop using technology, but to just appreciate nature and take care of it. We tend to forget about nature once we entire the unreal world, we think that the cyber world of the internet has become our real world. Our emotions have become part of something that is unreal, and should be part of what is real and that is our environment. Our environment won’t be here forever if we keep treating its condition with disrespect and apathy. Our environment is what keeps us alive and not till we can find a way to live without the environment then we should treat it with great care and respect.


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