What does this video say? It says that we have turned humans into machines, so much so, that our only solace is those who we cannot be around. That it is okay to have animals pent up all day. That this is somehow acceptable.
Animals are not like Tamaguchi toys. They need stimuli, otherwise they die. Virtual reality for animals is the next generation is estrangement from self. Do we really want to make everything virtual reality? Hothouses and growrooms are already virtual reality for plants. Chemical fertilizers, superstimuli. What are we doing? Are we aware that this is a sign of some deeper problem, or do we go about looking to cure symptoms? What sort of charade are we playing, exactly?
How many people work long days, in jobs they don’t like, doing things they don’t feel are worthwhile, waiting to go home and be alone–save for the grace of a dependent animal that has been locked up against its will, desperate for social contact?
A lot, I bet.
What this mean, is that this invention is just catering to a broken system. It is triage for the doldrums. It’s training animals and humans to interact increasing with virtual interfaces, personifying technology, instead of connecting with the biochemical flesh of another intentional, breathing being.
“Tell your pet that you love them or play some calming music to help with pet separation anxiety with PetBot’s speaker,” PetBot’s website instructs.
This created co-dependency is only the result of forcible penting pets up in sterile boxes (called apartments) with no stimuli, no companions, no life to interact with at all. Such a situation is a consequence only of the alienation that we have already foisted upon ourselves; an isolation that we then categorically apply to all of our relations around us, from monocropping agriculture to our very own pets, which we profess to “love” so much. Such love, at best, can only ever be but a reflection of our own inner state, our own inner desperation.
Such desperation is evident in the woman’s pained expressions in the PetBot video above. She seems to actually hate her life, and her cute dog is the one saving grace keeping her from the brink of suicide (if it were a man, we might assume homicide, like a school shooting, as another natural outcome; such is our gendered conditioning).
But clearly, the answer to this woman’s woes is not just to baby her and her pet’s seperation anxiety. Instead, it might look like–getting the hell out of that job, or if the income addiction is too much, and the squeezing of the middle class too extreme, then perhaps negotiating some way to bring her dog to work; or to release her dog to a family that can actually take care of it, have a yard, play with it, let it be a free range creature, even though clearly she is not one.
In a sense, we have become a nervous species, hooked-in to machines that give us little doses of soma (or ‘likes’) so that we have just enough–but no more–energy to get through our days. This ‘bare life’ is what Giorgio Agamben has characterized as the opposite from flourishing, the opposite from a Dionysion, Nietzschean embrace of the vitality of life in its glory, richness, and folly.
Let us rise from this dog-fo0d world of tricks and treats that we find ourselves in, and learn how to breathe and be, freely.