“The difference between technology and slavery is that slaves are fully aware that they are not free”
Society is changing constantly thanks to technology and innovation. Now in society social media is a big component of people’s lives. People post pictures and statuses reflecting their personality and interests. Popular opinions begin to shape how social media is used. In a sense social media and technology have shaped people’s identities and personalities. In the novel Neuromancer by William Gibson many of the changes that occur in society are explored. Technology plays a major role in the novel, affecting characters’ identity, socially and challenges gender norms.
In the novel many characters’ identities are shaped by the technology and innovations around them. Case was a console cowboy, who is a computer hacker, however he lost his ability to hack into cyberspace. It was as if he lost a part of himself. Case lost his ability to hack into cyberspace when he stole from his employers and was given a Russian mycotoxin damaging his nervous system in a Memphis hotel. He became very depressed and suicidal because he had no job. He started abusing drugs to numb the pain he had because he lost his only purpose to live. “You’re suicidal, Case. The model gives you a month on the outside. And our model gives you a month on the outside. And our medical projection say you’ll need a new pancreas inside a year.” (Gibson Page 29) Case’s identity was found through his job as a computer hacker. His life revolved around hacking into cyberspace. Once he lost that ability, he lost his identity as well. Molly’s identity was also shaped through her job and technological advances. She had bodily modifications making her fingernails like razors and vision-enhancing eye mirrors. These modifications allowed her to be the tough samurai she was. Her job and her bodily modification shaped her identity. She wasn’t afraid to fight anyone. Her attitude was fearless. It is evident that these two characters’ identities were shaped through their jobs and the technology available.
In Neuromancer there is a sense of duality with gender norms. In some occasions the gender roles in the novel are the typical ones and then in other occasions the opposite is true. Molly was a meat puppet, a prostitute, in order to afford her bodily modifications. Molly had to sell her body if she wanted to have the surgery that was only affordable for men. She later became a strong independent woman. Molly was ruthless and wasn’t of afraid of anything or anyone. This is a usual role for a woman. Typically in movies women are portrayed as victims and they always seem to need saving. However, this definitely isn’t Molly’s situation. She is Case’s bodyguard, which is also a role men usually take. “Because you try to fuck around with me, you’ll be taking on of the stupidest chances of your whole life.” Said Molly to Case. (Gibson Page 25) Case’s is not a very aggressive or violent character. Molly also is the one that leaves Case at the end of the novel. Molly left a note for case saying, “Hey it’s okay but it is still taking the edge off my game, I paid the bill already. It’s the way I’m wired I guess, watch your ass okay?” In traditional situation the man is typically the one leaving the girl. Also men are portrayed as the hard workers, hungry to excel at their jobs, whereas in this case Molly is the one leaving to get back her edge. What is interesting of Case’s and Molly’s dynamic is they have switched gender roles. Molly would be classified as more of the typical guy character and Case, being more passive, would be the girl.
Throughout the novel the positive and negative effects of technology on society are quite evident. Molly wouldn’t have been able to have her crucial modifications to defend herself if it weren’t for the advanced technology that was available. The lives of the characters in Neuromancer revolved around technology. After Case lost his ability to hack into cyberspace he was having withdrawal. “The black clinics of Chiba were the cutting edge, whole bodies of technique supplanted monthly and still they couldn’t repair the damage he’d suffered in that Memphis hotel.”(Gibson Page 4) “A year here and still dreamed of cyberspace hope fading nightly.” (Gibson Page 4) As a result of Case’s sadness he begins to use drugs. This is a negative spiral for Case. He lived for cyberspace and without that he sees no point in living. This shows how deeply affected people’s lives were by technology. Technology also allows people to be controlled. Armitage offers Case a deal where he needs to hack into cyberspace and in return Armitage will reverse Case’s condition. Armitage puts toxic sacs in the lining of various arteries in Case’s body. If Case does not complete the task the sacs will melt leaving Case without being able to hack into cyberspace again. “You have time to do what I’m hiring you for, Case, but that’s all. Do the job and I can inject you with an enzyme that will dissolve the bond without opening the sacs.” (Gibson Page 46)
Technology is advancing everyday. It is our job to make sure it is used for the correct purposes and not to be abused. In the novel Neuromancer by William Gibson the negative results of technology being abused are very well depicted. This novel could be used as a lesson for future generations to use technology as a tool but not as a means to survive. The fact that Case was having suicidal thoughts because the only thing he was ever good at (hacking into cyberspace) was taken away from him is a scary thought that people could depend that heavily on technology. The societies in the novel are violent and corrupt. “Power… means corporate power.” (Gibson Page 196) Technological power can lead to an abuse of power. The novel explores the possibilities of making the wrong decisions and abusing technological innovations for the wrong reasons.
Gibson, William. Neuromancer. New York: Penguin Group, 1984. Print.