The technological changes described in Der Arbeiter later became the topic of immense interest for Martin Heidegger. Heidegger ascertained the possibilities of Technology undermining the Dasein of everyday people as Beings-in-the-World. Whereas Spengler was arriving at his conclusions in Man and Technics, Heidegger never wrote a book based on his readings of Der Arbeiter until The Question Concerning Technology. The conclusions in Heidegger’s book are similar to those in Der Arbeiter and Man and Technics, its focus being ontological rather than psychological or historical. Even so, the conclusions drawn by all three men also have political-economic implications concerning Technology and the Work-Standard in particular.
To begin, Heidegger echoed the sentiments of Spengler by asking the reader to define Technology. Is Technology supposed to be a “tool” or an “instrument” intended to “get things done?” Is Technology supposed to be a “human activity,” as something that people engage in on a daily basis?
These conclusions, Heidegger acknowledged, are both everyday and anthropological definitions of Technology. Recalling his own readings of Der Arbeiter, these definitions never address the philosophical essence of Technology as a concept. This may seem like a paradoxical premise, but Part VI of this seven-part Compendium entry explored instances where Technology distorted the perceptions of everyday Americans. It has become common for outside observers to claim that Americans can no longer agree on any given basic set of facts. The questions posited by Heidegger regarding the definitions of Technology cannot be answered by the Arbeiter alone, especially if the Arbeiter is personified as an “expert” constantly “fact-checking” everything.
In essence, Technology is related to the concept of causality from Philosophy. Technology, as Heidegger described it, is inherently indebted to the responsibility of the Arbeiter. Technology cannot exist without the Arbeiter, just as the Arbeiter cannot exist without Technology; the two are inseparable from the other. More importantly, the “responsibility” of the Arbeiter cannot be understood in moral terms. The Figure itself understands “responsibility” as a verb that means “to occasion something” or “to bring something into physical existence.” The best way to grasp where Heidegger is going with this philosophical discussion is to define how Technology affects human perceptions of Reality.
Back in Part VI, Technology in the twenty years since 9/11 was causing Americans to become unable to agree on the most basic set of facts. This phenomenon implies that there is a certain objectivity to Reality that is binding and immune to any skeptical inquiry. But Reality itself has no universal definition. The moment somebody decides to understand and comprehend it, their perceptions eventually become their own understandings of “Reality.” As a Cartesian Subject, they are observing Reality as the Object, a problem discussed in Parts I and II of this Compendium entry.
Since nobody can truly know Reality, Technology has a tendency to reveal a specifically concealed understanding of the world. This “unconcealment” presents a certain interpretation of the world as an objective Reality, erasing all distinctions between opinion and fact. What was originally concealed is now unconcealed by Technology. The most notable examples are on social media platforms, where Technology enables one to “become Woke,” “become Anti-SJW,” “become Antifascist,” “become Anti-Science,” “become Flat Earther” and so forth. They can take on the forms of Facebook status updates, out-of-context tweets on Twitter, Selfies presenting pre-fabricated appearances on Instagram or Pinterest, personalized YouTube ads, personal experiences with redditors on Reddit or video game streamers on Twitch, and third-party items for purchase on Amazon, Ebay, Steam, Etsy, GOG, and so forth. All of these common examples of what goes on in the World Wide Web is precisely what Heidegger is addressing regarding his philosophical analysis of Technology.
What Technology does by unconcealing what was once concealed is to present an interpretation of the world that is Materialistic and even Utopian. It becomes normalized to view Life, both online and offline, as a struggle between Technology and Nature. The “Market Economy” is no longer a discussion about whether it is a part of Nature; instead, it is now a discussion over whether there is a Market for Nature itself. Anything and anyone can become a “commodity” online, from personal data and the software to protect oneself from being doxxed with offline repercussions to recent commoditization of personal experiences of a 1980s-themed web series on Netflix.
This interpretation of the world is dead-set on consuming and depleting everything on Earth for Kapital, as Kapital continues to grow increasingly abstract and take on countless different forms. The personal experiences of someone may eventually no longer become their own and reflect those of somebody else. This is problematic for anyone concerned about Climate Change, because Nature itself is presented to humanity on its own terms. No amount of scientific research is going to convince anyone who cannot differentiate between the Authentic Dasein of their true Self and the Inauthentic Dasein that is enframed to their Self online.
Therein lies the whole issue of “Free Speech”: whether anything can be ‘deplatformed’ and driven off of any social media platform or be allowed to continue existing as one interpretation of Reality. Here, a certain pattern of “enframing” becomes evident in Internet phenomena. When Technology reveals something about the world such as Googling something or scrolling down recent notifications, it is “enframing” the viewer with a specific interpretation of Reality. “To enframe” anything online is to also experience it; everyone is experiencing the world digitally as the world itself reveals more of what it has to offer with each passing moment. The only real difference is that nothing is really happening offline until people finally decide that something should happen in the Real World. Anonymous (the hacking group), Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, Pizzagate, QAnon, Unite the Right, Brexit, #MeToo and #HimToo, Antifa, #StopTheSteal and the Gamestop Short Squeeze by redditors from r/wallstreetbets are well-known examples of enframing between 2011 and 2021. All of them are recent instances of people being ‘enframed’ by a specific interpretation of Reality and accepting it as being Reality itself.
These unhealthy forms of enframing on social media does not bode well. By presenting the specific interpretation of Reality that Heidegger warned against, humanity is at risk of falsely believing it has absolute control over Nature and humanity itself as a “standing-reserve” of commodities. The 20th century has already demonstrated that the latter consistently ends with Totalitarianism. In any case, the enframing that occurs on social media is creating a sort of “mass delusion” tantamount to “mass hysteria” borderlining on narcissism and eventually losing sight of what is true and false, fact and fiction.
Even so, Technology also has the ability to present a different enframing. This enframing is the one from the Arbeiter, which compels the need to reevaluate everyday perceptions, experiences and interpretations of Technology. Technology no longer becomes the “Science of Technology” but the “Art of Technology.” It presents opportunities and ways for humanity to become mindful of its technologies and reevaluate their own relationship with the Arbeiter for ultimately introducing Technology. The Typus embodied in the Work-Standard as an “Art of Finance” is indicative of how there are still plenty of opportunities for the Work-Standard to enframe distinct ways of living as a Being-in-the-World in the SMP Compendium.