Extreme Makeover Needed!
Extreme Makeover Needed: Why and how transhumanists must transcend their nerdy aura
Valentine’s Day, 2006
In Transhumanism at the Crossroads, Russel Blackford wrote:
One good reason to feel slightly uncomfortable with transhumanism is its unmistakable nerdy aura, the sense that it appeals to a particular demographic, essentially young white males with computers. Its restricted demographic appeal is, indeed, part of the problem.
Really? I guess I’ve been so preoccupied with trying to bury transhumanism’s cyberselfish baggage in the ash heap of history to notice.
A nerd is defined as “an unstylish, unattractive, or socially inept person; especially if he is slavishly devoted to intellectual or academic pursuits.”
Although I’ve always thought of transhumanists as the geekerati of human enhancement tech (since for me a geek is simply a person often of an intellectual bent which is under-appreciated by others), are some or even most transhumanists nerds?
In “Transhumanists, Still Human” A Report On Transvision 2004, Kip Werking wrote:
Mann is representative of the Transvision 2004 experience: he is obviously intelligent (others at the conference studied at Harvard, Cambridge, Princeton, and Oxford) but is quite strange and can even inspire concern. During the weekend in Toronto, I felt acute worry about the well being of at least one Singularitarian, Immortalist, and practitioner of caloric restriction ( “cronie” ) for various reasons – not least of which was the fact that each of them had dramatically reduced or altogether stopped working in order to further their transhumanist cause.
In Against Transcendence, Jason Potin wrote:
But what struck me is that he is a troll. For all de Grey’s vaulting ambitions, what Sherwin Nuland saw from the outside was pathetically circumscribed. In his waking life, de Grey is the computer support to a research team; he dresses like a shabby graduate student and affects Rip Van Winkle’s beard; he has no children; he has few interests outside the science of biogerontology; he drinks too much beer. Although he is only 41, the signs of decay are strongly marked on his face.
In The ‘Singularity’ of the Nerds”, Danielle Egan wrote:
Yudkowsky is 23 years old. He says he had a “pseudotraumatic childhood” and no formal schooling, but scored 1410 (high) and 1600 (the highest possible grade) on SAT tests at ages 11 and 15, respectively. Like most transhumanists, he is Caucasian. He’s tall, with stooped shoulders, glasses, some brown teeth. He considers himself shy and socially awkward, is a “volunteer virgin"…
In Cryonics Over Dead Geeks’ Bodies, Michelle Delio wrote:
Pringle wonders what people of the future will think about our civilization when they break open all those canisters containing nerds’ bodies and heads. “Instead of preserving the finest physical specimens of 21st-century humanity—the athletic, the attractive, the physically fit, the Adonis and Venus de Milo types whose bodies are so well deserving of eternity -– we seem to be conserving geeks with taped-up glasses and bad haircuts, people whose idea of dinner ranges only a little further than Frito-Lays, Cheetos and Jolt,” Pringle said. “What a warped view the 40th century will have of the rest of us.”
In Transhumanism Reloaded, Stacy Robinson wrote:
But it may be a mistake to dismiss the transhumanists as a harmless group of under-socialized techno-geeks. Their vision of a world in which atomized individuals use technology and free markets to achieve dominance over others differs in degree, and not kind, from much of the real world today. At a time when many people feel powerless to influence social conditions, their message—don’t worry about society; technology will make you smart, strong, and attractive—could seem compelling.
Kill me now.
Transhumanists are an increasingly diverse group of people and it’s extremely unfair to label an entire group based on the characterics and lifestyle of a few among it.
However, I don’t care how much prime time coverage transhumanists and their memes get… Actually, I do care. The more coverage we get, the more this “unmistakable nerdy aura” will be exposed for all to see. Cue snikering from the audience.
So what are we to do, you ask.
Enter the Technosexual:
In early 2004, “people who spend less money on mousse and more on mouse pads decided that if the style-savvy guys could get their hands on a marketable brand name, then the uber-geeks could certainly come up with something better than nerd: Thus, the term “technosexual” was born. A technosexual is not simply in touch with his feminine side but is connected to it on multiple platforms. He likes gadgets that have lots of gigabytes but are still small enough to fit in his pocket.”
“For years, technological experts have been called many derogatory names, including geek, nerd, dweeb, technophile, gadgeteer, techie or Mr Computer Guy. The list is endless. But the tide of technological teasers is changing. Maybe it was the dotcom boom and its resulting millionaires? Maybe it was Neo? Whatever — new word of the week is the fabulously now, “technosexual”. Makes you want to dial for the IT help desk, doesn’t it?”
“With metrosexuality, it’s about style, fashion, culture, and grooming for the straight male. A metrosexual man may be seen at an NBA game one night and an art gallery opening the next,” says Ricky Montalvo, the man who wants to take technosexuals mainstream. “We take it one step further by adding technology. A technosexual man may not need to go to the NBA game because he can get highlights and scores via SMS or by browsing the web on his PDA while at the art gallery.”
Oh I know some of you are rolling your eyes and are probably saying: “But aren’t technosexuals, like metrosexuals before them, a bit too… gay vague (not that there is anything wrong with that)?”
Welcome to the Future of Men: the Ubersexual:
“The phenomenon of the ultra-groomed metrosexual man, such as David Beckham, 30, is over. Now men have to be ubersexual — more macho but still in touch with their feminine side, like Jamie Oliver, 30. Ubersexual comes from the German word for “above” — meaning such fellas are expected to be above just being merely sexy and need to be a complete gentleman to boot!”
“The whole concept of maleness — including dressing, grooming and communication skills — needs a makeover. Enter the latest buzzword: the Ubersexual and the Age of M-ness. The new male is unafraid of romance and sensuality, and can talk fine wine or pima cotton shirts and sheets.”
“The descriptor ‘uber’ was chosen because it means the best, the greatest. Ubersexuals are the most attractive (not just physically), most dynamic, and most compelling men of their generations. They are confident, masculine, stylish, and committed to uncompromising quality in all areas of life.”
Now, doesn’t that sound like what some if not all transhumanist men secretly (or openly!) aspire to become through future enhancement?
But let’s forget all these silly labels and focus on what’s important in the here and now:
Are you suffering from shyness, social anxiety or depression? Get some therapy and take Prozac.
Stuck in a fashion time warp? Buy new clothes at a store known for being trendy.
Bad haircut? Ask your barber to try something new.
Bad teeth? Brush you teeth thrice a day and visit the dentist every 4 months.
Fat? Stop eating junk food. Start eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and go to gym.
Skinny? Eat more and go to the gym.
Smoke? Get a nicotine patch and stop smoking.
Drink too much? Stop drinking beer.
Don’t drink? Start drinking wine.
Too poor to do any of this? Get a real job and keep it!
By the way, the US National Institute on Aging is accumulating evidence that all the things mentioned above (except for the hip wardrobe of course) are habits that contribute to living longer.
So in the same way we find it hypocritical when religious people don’t practice what they preach, how can we, transhumanists, convincingly promote better bodies, better minds and better lives when we don’t have the discipline to use existing technology to get closer to having them?
Seriously, what are you waiting for to improve yourself? The Singularity?!
Oh wait. Maybe you are…
God help us.
Justice De Thezier is a social entrepreneur and creative professional. In 2003, he founded the Quebec Transhumanist Association, which he closed down in January 2008. From January 2006 to January 2008, De Thezier served on the board of directors of the World Transhumanist Association. And, from November 2005 to March 2007, he contributed to the Cyborg Democracy web portal and blog.