Are We all Cyborgs?

I was doing a reading for another one of my classes, CS251: Intro to Visual Culture, and within the text book, Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture, Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright look at how different facets of visual culture are more significant than we give credit for. The most recent chapter focuses on the way that our use of technology has rendered us all cyborgs:

“Much contemporary work in cyborg theory postulates that we are all, to a certain extent, cyborgs, given our complex bodily relationships with technology; for example, that our interactions with our computers, iPods, and cell phones means that we experience technologies as inseparable from our bodies. Technologies are often sold to us with the promise that they will function as extensions of our bodies (as Marshall McLuhan once predicted), and these technologies are imagined to be integrated within our very eyes and vision” – (Sturken & Cartwright 380).

The time we spend using our devices far surpasses the time that is necessary for us to use them. I was wondering if you guys agreed with this distinction of the term cyborg in the sense that we could be considered as such in this day and age, or if you believe that more invasive procedures are required and that technology has not advance enough for this to be a valid reading of the term?




  1. I think Donna Haraway who we’ve read in this class would agree that we are all cyborgs today. Even to connect to that short film “Connected” with Pamela Anderson, we considered her a cyborg even before the chip was implanted into her ear because she drank artificial protein smoothies, wore performance enhancing athletic gear, rode a stationary bike with facetime capabilities, and even checked her voicemail. How she interacts with those seamlessly makes her a cyborg even at the beginning of the video. We are all ‘hybrids’ of natural and artificial in so many ways today. We do not operate 100% naturally anymore so I would agree in saying we are cyborgs!

  2. Hey Eshan, this is a really great excerpt quote that compliments our course. I agree with Jenna that even Haraway postulates beings as cyborgs because of our interconnected nodes in relation to, well, everything else around us and the ways in which we make sense of it all. We are partial beings and in order to be whole we need to be ironically open; the uncanny essence of being open to connections outside of our current social and natural world. A big difference with Haraway is her en/vision of a utopic futurity (a future we may never reach because technology may never be fully developed: it is always needing to become rather than being (also an ironic position?) riddled in possibility). Haraway takes on the radical notion that we need to be wholly unearthed (which can very well be done with an intellectual, emotional, or even romantic epiphany or an entire transition in understanding, not just physical). Where, by interpretation of Sturken and Cartwright’s wording, they postulate a reformative essence of cyborgism which is more of an attribute to an adjustment of being rather than becoming.

    Perhaps it is better to place it like this: According to Sturken and Cartwright posthumanist frame, I could be defined as a cyborg because I wear glasses to support my vision as an extension of myself. According to Haraway, I am a cyborg because I require sight technologies to make me more whole. The difference here is that Sturken and Cartwright take a tolerance approach (us or them) to cyborgs where Haraway takes an acceptance approach (I am it) to cyborgs.

    Personally, for a lot of reasons, I am a cyborg and believe that I am post-posthuman because of the nature of tech I use and the tech that has been used to surgically alter my body. I don’t want to get into that whole thing. #hybridityislife

  3. I agree with both of you. I think the definition of cyborg gave in the textbook by Sturken and Cartwright coincides with what Donna Haraway was getting at, that the way people use technology in their daily lives is an actual extension of the human body. I think of how I can monitor my heart heart, count how many steps I take, buy coffee, talk to friends and so much more just from the device that sits in the hand 90% of the day. The reliance on technology is so heavy that I definitely think it is safe to conclude that people are becoming cyborgs through their relationships with daily devices.

  4. I’m in CS251 too, and I agree! We definitely have reached the point with technology that we are cyborgs. I agree with the comments above as well, and how we function day to day with technology, and without it, we would feel off. I can’t imagine living a week without my phone. It’s used as my alarm clock, communication to friends and family, how I access my course work and readings, my iPod, and countless other uses. It has become such a necessity that we would be lost without it. Companies like Apple market these products to us so well, that they have become lifestyle devices, instead of solely for business or just for texting/calling our friends and family.

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