Technology which answers cultural expectations and anxieties

In the de la Peña reading, The Body Electric, the author argues that the electric belt emerged and was successful in the early twentieth century because it provided an answer to cultural anxieties at the time. In further detail, the electric belt was a culturally constructed “cure” for Neurasthenia (tiredness).

In present day, with rapid advancements in wearable and portable technology such as the Apple watch and smart phones American culture has become accustomed to new technologies which facilitate easier lifestyles. It’s under this cultural expectation that the “hover board” handle-less Segway was created. In the above article, the author argues that the handle-less Segway has succeeded in our culture due to its widespread acceptance by pop culture icons. They support their argument with photo and quotation evidence from stars using the technology in their daily lives.

Both pieces address the topic of technological objects shaping American culture. They are similar in that each object was created in response to a cultural need or desire. Personally, I don’t think it’s wise to treat cultural expectations and anxieties with material things which support consumerism, but I can understand where these products fill a cultural niche. What cultural expectation or anxiety do you think the handle-less Segway answers in our culture today?


Inferiority (or disability) manifested in Immigration restrictions today


In light of the reading (“Disability and the Justification of Inequality in American History”) by Douglas C. Baynton I was intrigued by one of his arguments that disability acted in place of nationality; specifically before nationality based quotas were established. In addition to his point, I argue that quotas and disabilities attributed to nationalities are the same thing. The process of restricting immigrants based on their nationality is no different than than the “old” viewpoint that other nationalities are disabled (or inferior) compared to Americans. The above image demonstrates severely limited European immigration due to a quota-based system as mentioned. The depiction of such restriction is equivalent to collectively viewing European nationalities as inferior to the American nation. If you sought to immigrate to another country, would you agree with unequal quota-based restrictions (which effectively imply inferiority) based on your nationality?