Title: Dying to Communicate
Subtitle: The Unabomber’s Determinism
Date: April 2016
Notes: A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in History. Montana State University.


I am grateful to Dr. Brett Walker, Committee Chair,

Dr. Tim LeCain and Dr. Michael Reidy, Committee members, and to Dr. Robert Rydell – I am still smiling about de-vices.

List of Figures

1. Kaczynski’s Drawing of Evil

2. Images of Kaczynski Teenaged, Captured, and in his Sixties


Modern communication technology is changing how humans relate in response time, tone, written language, and imagery with resulting life changing acts in individual and public life.

Many modern people have been all too willing to accept that technological innovation is a good choice for the future. In this thesis, social and technological history of Medieval through post-Industrial Revolution communications are analyzed drawing in part on Theodore Kaczynski’s theory on the effects of technology to our bodies, psyches, and the environment. Kaczynski’s theoretical frame suggests that computing technology has changed how we write, what our response times and the tone of our writing is, and what words look like in the last quarter century. The spoken word promoted with the advent of moveable type helped promote literacy among the masses. Computer technology then again changed printing and expectations around writing. Humans have gone from verbal, to printed words, to using images to communicate. As the look of words migrated to the symbolic, the ease of message delivery and the introspection of composing thought is shortened, words are written that often would not be spoken to the reader, and people no matter their age are touched by this technology. This thesis uses Ted Kaczynski’s, (also known as the Unabomber) ideas to challenge the core of our views of these modern devices and the choices we make to adopt or reject them.

Whether the choices we make are an expression of freedom or of necessity we must become more aware of how technology changes the way we live, work, and respond to these instruments as models of choice. Historical perspective helps us to analyze whether we are chewing up time or getting beyond unabashed acceptance of technology in the twentieth century.


Alex, a twenty-three year old Sunday school teacher, has lived in a rural Washington state town with her grandparents since she was eleven-months old. One day, another Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) beheading on the television news lures Alex into innocently investigating the Islamic State. Nine months later, ISIS operatives were encouraging her to leave the country to marry a Muslim man on the other side of the world, somebody twice her age whom she had never met. “My grandparents enjoy living in the middle of nowhere. I enjoy community,” Alex said. “It gets lonely here.”[1] Alex’s desire for connection met with kindness from her new online friend Faisal from England: this online friendship with him and his network lavished her with gifts of books, hijab headscarves, candy, and a free ticket to Europe. Alex basked in this online attention, and at Faisal’s urging she converted to Islam, set aside her pop tunes for Islamic music, dreamed of going to the lands of Islam, and spent hours online each day because his attention filled the gap she craved for community. Faisal’s attention did raise red flags with her family, however. They intervened, telling Alex that her pal was enticing her away. After having broken ties with Faisal, she admits, in hindsight, that while she feels good not lying to her family anymore, she feels sad because she has lost a friend. Shortly after this admission, she resumed contact with Faisal. Her relationship to Faisal was more akin to an addiction than a friendship. This growing intensity of the need to have online friends in the absence of face-to-face communication has altered our social fabric. It is the history of our growing dependence on technologically driven forms of interpersonal communication, and its psychological, social, and political consequences, that this MA thesis explores.

In Europe and the United States, wherever there has been technological advancement there have been anti-technology movements, and they have occurred since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. British textile workers known as the Luddites, named after the semi-mythical figure Ned Ludd, protested against the stocking frame, spinning frames, and the new power loom, fearing these new labor-saving technologies would replace them. Their protests occurred during the Napoleonic Wars, primarily between 1811-1816, when economic hard times proved difficult enough to cause some workers to burn the mills or ruin equipment out of desperation against their employers.

Today a second wave of anti-technology movements, referred to as Neo-Luddite movements, is occurring, one that has mainly opposed new communications technologies. While it is beyond the scope of this MA thesis to explore technological advancement and environmental degradation, nuclear weapons and war, and bioengineering or biological weapons, many modern technologies have sparked an anti- tech radicalized anxiety. In the United States, no figure represents this movement more powerfully than Theodore John “Ted” Kaczynski (b. 1942), the “Unabomber”, currently in federal prison for life, his correspondences monitored for “incited violence”. To read Kaczynski’s writing is a bit like reading a modern Thomas Paine: “freedom,” he explains, is of utmost importance to him.[2] He is a revolutionary at heart, and continues to pose a threat to society because he sees revolutionaries as catalysts to anti-technological social change. Revolutionaries, he says, are people who “must have a hard set of values of primitive society where skill, self-discipline, honesty, physical and mental stamina, intolerance for external restraints, capacity to endure physical pain, and above all courage,” as well as the logic and a plan to incite others to do it.[3]

My thesis is that, as incoherent as Kaczynski’s at times garbled philosophy might be, and as reprehensible as his crimes most certainly were, Kaczynski hit an historical nerve with his hypothesis that technologically driven interconnectivity and communication promotes ultimate disaster. His doomsday thinking flies in the face of our positivist narrative regarding the power of technologies, such as handheld phones, to promote democratization, more personal connections, and even economic growth and entrepreneurship. This MA thesis explores Kaczynski’s philosophy with an eye toward investigating the progression of language, printing, and the psychological, social, and political consequences of select electronic communication technologies in the twentieth century, as well as their backlashes, to better understand the complex place of technological advancement in American culture.

Effects of Technology

Communication technologies refer to those technologies used to communicate through language, print, and electronic devices like the telephone, telegraph, and the Internet. The progression illustrates the degradation from using our vocabulary, possessing a reverence for the written word to the present digital cryptic messaging languages, called Internet slang, or chatspeak – shortened words that disappear and morph – with changing technologies. Today we communicate by typing on one electronic communication device or another where users –restrained by character limits, or simply looking to save keystrokes – have popularized these cryptic electronic based-languages shortened to messaging. Originally, this evolution started by human efforts to improve means to communicate by the development of a complex spoken and then written language, but has since degraded as technologies dictate. The invention of the printing press meant that words spread exponentially so that after the 13th century the written word became available to the most all levels of society. For hundreds of years this was true until the invention of electrical devices. In recent time, people in WWII used encrypted codes over wires to communicate military intelligence and field safety.

Further, the invention of the telephone allowed public use of a virtually instantaneous level of connection unknown before. These were the beginnings of harnessing technological inventions for everyday uses, where today the changes are exponential by virtue of a world wide web. The Internet in its infancy when Kaczynski was forming his views makes his arrest in 1996 a fascinating crime story, but the methods he used for many observers erases the content of his motive. The dichotomy exemplified when Chuck Klosterman writes,

“The Internet is not improving our lives. It’s making things (slightly) worse. But because I’m not free – because I am a slave to my own weakness – I can no longer imagine life without it. I love the Internet. I love the Internet. And I will probably love whatever technological firebomb comes next. My apologies, Ted. Your thirty-five thousand word document makes sense to me, but I cannot be saved. You’ll have to blow up my hands.”[4]

The power of the Internet is not a cliché. This prevalent means to communicate is more as Kaczynski thought; endangering a kind of freedom that most people do not even realize is possible.[5] The migration from spoken language to print and using images over an electronic network endanger specific types of political freedom; Kaczynski and others sense that therefore inherent problems await society.

A few decades into the Internet age, a fixation to “be connected” at all times shrunk computers to handheld smart devices (the iPhone, etc., basically mini-computers you can keep in your pocket), which has moved us into an electronically connected world, a place that society, not people, developed. A key point for Kaczynski is that, “People do not consciously and rationally choose the form of their society. Societies develop through processes of social evolution that are not under rational human control.”[6] Appliances and utensils for instance do one or two tasks simply and well. The telephone for one, but appliances, especially electronic ones, linked to the Internet connect to other devices and people to do much more. These are communication tools of linked knowledge, for example satellite mapping, that uses spoken words to convey assistance with directions to a physical place. Not everyone needs these sophisticated electronic accessories, but many people use them. For the sake of a common phrase, I refer to all of these as de-vices here, short for optionally needed electronically networked communication device. De-vice because one quickly cannot imagine life without it, yet for hundreds of years we did making our dependence self-induced. Dr. Sherry Turkle, an MIT sociologist and psychologist, submits the tasks they perform are attractive, affordable, and such communication technologies give the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship because they do not require spoken language.[7] These de-vices are seductive, especially when the proffered technology meets the need for human contact, even if it is mediated electronically, such as Faisal’s online overtures to Alex.

As Turkle has argued, humans are at the same time lonely but fearful of intimacy, and the illusion of companionship without the demand of friendship is a result.[8] She continues that the insecure in us can relate to less emotional risk in a world where hiding behind such de-vices is reassuring, and one can be a spectator in a human world via virtual places having instant access into far reaching networks of people.[9] Some facts associated with de-vices are: addictive behaviors often associated with the loss of one’s smartphone, insisting on the right to text while driving even though it is known that it is more dangerous than drinking and driving, sleeping with these de-vices, and like a phantom limb knowing it is vibrating or ringing even when it is not. While this bothers some of us, ask any teenager if they would rather call or text someone and the resounding answer from most is text.[10] Some see an adverse health effect that depending on a device to display or ping a connection while insisting this does not interrupt them, the consequence of constant anticipation means they do not get down time, nor have time for meaningful self-reflection, or even know if what they are conveying is being shared. The distance de-vices offer, where one can chose one’s words, and respond when one is ready rather than be put on the spot in real time is alluring, and not unplanned. This is a problem of the Internet age and a main theme here exemplified in Kaczynski’s words, “Technology is a more powerful social force than the aspiration for freedom”. Most people today are giving up almost everything yet nothing that is particularly important to have these de-vices something Kaczynski rejected an effort to be free. Decisions to accept de-vices find many addicted and hoping for any electronic exchange, no matter how superficial the connection.

As Turkle points out, the appeal of these de-vices, what makes them enthralling and hard to put down, is the “network effect”, or how a company or programmer engages the user by design.[11] Kaczynski did not experience this firsthand, but his thesis that technology is bad for civilization, we live in a manner that is unnatural, we are enslaved by our own ingenuity, and we have unknowingly constructed a simulated world is mostly right then. When people visit a website the network effect programmed for an overload of content encourages people to click around and stay engaged longer. As with the advent of the telephone, the more people who have one the more valuable it becomes to a functioning network. Businesses learn that popularity of their product results in more sales, boosts the value of the product and services, and increases profits. Growth hackers, the industry term for the experts who continually test and tweak applications and websites to better hook consumers, target them in an effort to keep them coming back, or persuade them to stay longer. This business allows for conversations about what might potentially be too much encouragement, and to examine the moral significance of unintended consequences (online gambling for instance). Willpower of one against the programming efforts of many to break down resistance goes on behind the screen where viewers do not see or in many instances know such tactics are occurring. A neurological effect feeds on a desire to be in touch or to win. These good feelings result in people forming relationships to their mechanical de-vices. It is evident because we bond with, adorn, pay ongoing “connection” fees, and express how instantaneous electromagnetic data links to check in (another word for connect) to each other over airwaves regardless of whether the cost and distraction is desirable. The network effect used to keep people engaged is addicting by design, profiting off our desire for relationships and our bond to de-vices that connect us.

As the world gets more crowded human migration to cities allows more anonymity, and coupled with the breakdown of the family unit, people are reaching out to new online networks to feel connected, bringing changes to our bodies and psyches in an historically short amount of time just as Kaczynski believed. It is conceivable that something bigger is at work promoting the use and assuring an addiction, because of the short time period these changes are taking place in. Kaczynski thinks capitalism plays a role,

“Of course, today’s corporations are out for money, but the asserted justification for their activities is that economic competition generated wealth for the whole society. In other words, it is claimed that by taking care of themselves the corporations are helping take care of everyone. (And in a materialistic sense this is true in the short run, since capitalist economies do provide what is called a “higher standard of living” than socialist economies do.)”

He goes on to say we expect corporations to take care of their employees through health insurance and pensions, that they may donate or spend money for things that bring them no direct profit but might help the public, though their real purpose in this is to improve public image. Further, he says when capitalists like John D. Rockefeller or Bill Gates become so rich that they get bored making money, they spend it to take care of people.[12] While Kaczynski blames capitalism for technological growth, which he sees as unsupportive of independence, many people cannot take him seriously because he sent bombs to people. While capitalism has allowed extreme economic growth in some instances, changing how we connect to each other and live when juxtaposed to Kaczynski’s methods, it is a responsible system.

The discipline of the history of science fixed to the period of World War I carries over to the history of technology beginning with the Cold War when Kaczynski was coming of age. Sources of invention and innovation, how new technologies are spread from one region to another, and how culturally influenced these processes of dissemination in turn alter the technologies themselves are not determined by the inventor, but by the hands of later users. The struggle to define whether innovation and invention drive society or the other way around illustrates why the theory of “technological determinism” is shifting, and why there is interest in the unintended consequences of technological change. The scholarship reflects that technology is more than industrial production and rarely revolutionary. It is subtle and slow, often less obvious at the onset, and not necessarily cumulative subject to supply and demand.

Technology is deeply intertwined with societies and cultures where the benefits are unevenly distributed – begging questions Kaczynski asks: progress for whom and for what, and linked: because why, and for whom? It is an interactive model that is a result of technology becoming an intricate part of a web of human culture without clear boundaries between technology, society, and politics. The acceleration of change makes these webs, these networks, historically complex and premature, most especially after electricity built the pathways to newer financially, and politically important ways to communicate. Using technological infrastructure that industry and government have created for large-scale development induces a financial power play in every domain of life. The capitalist structure allows businesses to produce and use the means to access communication tools while making money doing so, and accepted today even in communist countries where people seem to barely care because they are so entrenched in the use. In China, Sina Weibo, a microblog service much like Twitter, is widely used to comment on a range of topics, which suggests using social media to connect, transcends economic systems.[13] Kaczynski foresaw the draw that supersedes global economies and political structures invading our personal lives too. All societies using technologies see some rate of political social and economic influence in our lives by virtue of use not by the technologies themselves.

Where these de-vices follow us – in church, the bedroom, to the dinner table – show there are no boundaries. If we chose as Kaczynski did, to disconnect completely then these electronic intrusions are easily identifiable, as most interfere via a network to sell, support, and invent a growing addiction to connectivity. As modes of communicating change, our addiction to de-vices is only a product of our most basic strength to have human contact, and we act with a sense of such urgency – checking email, texts, calls – leaving no uninterrupted time to think. Fueled with expectations of speed, Kaczynski said people would potentially make bad decisions because they do not have time and space to decide complicated issues. We have reduced our complex language down to 140 characters to communicate, and accept Heads of States making important announcements via Twitter, coopting thousands of years of progress in a dumbing down of society. Kaczynski’s thought that accepting these changes is a step backwards are recognizably true when far-reaching social 'effects', whether optimistic or pessimistic, get claimed for many communications technologies. Our current de-vice based revolution where our modes of communicating tend to be presented as the final communications revolution can be seen as having been preceded by the writing revolution and the print revolution. Kaczynski’s warnings are not unique to him, and this is only the latest phase of an electronics revolution, which started with telegraphy.

From Language to Print to Icons

A brief history of how our means to communicate have changed starts with spoken language, a unique library of lexicons in every culture that separates us from the animal world by a cooperation of verbal expressions. At birth we can perceive the full set of 800 or so sounds called phonemes that can be strung together to form all the words in every language in the world. As Patricia Kulh, a professor of speech and hearing sciences, explains, at six months a baby’s brain begins to learn the sounds of vowels, and at nine months consonants, extended a few months more for those exposed to a second language where they can attain a fair fluency until age seven.[14] Humans have possession of language, culture, and high intelligence plus the drive to reproduce and form flexible alliances between gender, race, and classes. What makes us different from the animal world is the ability to collaborate by sorting out selfishness and selflessness with the purpose of achieving shared goals. From infancy, humans can read by seeing the intentions of others something you cannot do unless communicating face to face. Humans will want to cooperate if there is even a trace of shared interest. Children shown willing to offer to help in an experiment replicated with chimpanzee subjects saw no such effort attempted.[15] In other words, by our humanness we socialize, communicate, and connect with one another. Language evolved to be able to describe everything imaginable and to convey meanings and messages, leading to the increased ability to read and act upon intention.

In all that it can do, spoken language remains the most perishable of artifacts while written language in the form of words and images leaves a more lasting record, one that is increasing recognized for self-expression. How we document words and images changed in the 14th century, when the printing press enabled an explosion of transported words; it effectively preserved verbal history, affected methods of data collection, storage, and retrieval systems, creating a learned community of communication networks throughout Medieval Europe. Viewed as a revolutionary change the social filter of class, race, and educational level determined how people used this technology and how fast it became adopted. While printing shared many true events and knowledge, it has left a trail of misconceptions and outright falsehoods as well. Bruno Latour (b. 1947) has explained that “immutability” from multiple printed copies allowed links to other times and places; yet old texts at the hand of scribes unwittingly conserved mistakes into future editions too. He writes, as “immobiles” old texts replaced with new data based on regions incorporate new visible objects that mobilize space and time differently to convey the meaning of “Truth”.[16] Print opened the door to broadcast self-expression and influencing prowess, enabling societies to literacy, yet still with the possibility for deception.

Kaczynski, while trying to remain anonymous, becomes frantic to have his voice heard after the Timothy McVeigh Oklahoma City bombing; he pursues the New York Times and the Washington Post to get his Manifesto published. Kaczynski’s writing degenerates as the Manifesto progresses with repeated words, misspellings, and thoughts that are more disjointed. Since Kaczynski’s diet consisted of rabbit and foraged plants for almost twenty years Forest Service Officer, Jerry Burns, who helped the FBI arrest Kaczynski, remembers taking hold of his wrist saying, “he was skin and bones”[17] another fact that influences bad decisions. We now know that when Kaczynski’s pet phrases – notably the term “cool-headed logicians” were read in the Manifesto, it identified him as the writer. Print links us to the past by what Latour called immutable function leading us to see a writers’ intention, just as Kaczynski’s own words revealed him.

Kaczynski still writes extensively today, yet use of the Internet to communicate is denied to him by the government because his words are so powerful. He writes everything by hand, and then he copies it by hand again for his archives at the University of Michigan. Images as information started in art and science, a universal way to represent things without using words. For hundreds of years humans have captured meaning visually as Kaczynski illustrates his view of evil here in figure 1:

Figure 1. Kaczynski’s Drawing of Evil.

We have access to centuries old artifacts that used images to convey ideas and reality. In the making of images, seventeenth-century science was influential to Dutch artists who fully and creatively realized the artists’ perspective as a mode of imaging. The Dutch had a word for ideas as pictures, “ideen ofte denkbeelden,” and a word for mental pictures, “oog te bedriegen,” meaning fooling the eyes. John Amos Comenius, (d. 1680), a Moravian philosopher, used the things to which words referred to when teaching Latin, a shift away from instructing in lexicons. He was the first to use pictures in textbooks (The Visible World In Pictures, 1658). Comenius pursued the idea of learning from things where the things replaced the words they referred to. Images have a paradigmatic place where vision and language are universally representative. This emphasis on language as description, not rhetoric, is much like what today’s images, called icons and emojis, pictorial representations shared through de-vices are, expressing representation for words and things. When we see the image of a man in sunglasses and hooded shirt, it is easily recognizable as Kaczynski, the Unabomber. Long known images depicted as representation for words and things in art and science have power to convey meaning that eventually whole cultures recognize and use.

A long way from the scientific laboratory, images have come to represent and elicit emotions much like photography and fiction. As Latour exemplifies, semiotics has furthered the study of what a visual culture conveys both in what we see and what there is to see.[18] A level of mystery surrounds images until universally learned as in the Unabomber image. We recognize that images can represent many things. Universal signage as when airplane silhouettes represent where the airport is located, images show religion the star and crescent from the Ottoman Empire, and political agendas the democrat’s donkey or republican’s elephant all convey information regardless of ethnic culture. The migration began with scientific details depicted as pictorial representations in art to express information, images to convey words or things that are in simplest form icons today that universally depict meaning in graphic structure. Further, pictures as art document or represent behavior, and although a narrative, and staged from a certain distance, or window, shows a second or substitute world. When we see Kaczynski’s Unabomber image we see someone hiding in plain view. These types of images different from scientific representation invoke emotions and are universally recognizable.

The Game Changer: Electricity

Electricity, the biggest change in communication since printing sends information invisibly and furthers urgency for fast recognition. Precursors to the Internet were forms of early-wired communication systems: Morse code, the telegraph, and cryptologic codes using electricity and were the advent of instantaneous messaging. These were the first de- vice innovations that Kaczynski would know about. Morse Code marked for the first time in human history direct messages sent out at high speed internationally. Communication was simple and handled by anyone with an understanding of its code. The telegraph and codes would transform how journalists did business and how wars were fought and won. Codes and images do have a history of recurring themes of secrecy, as in passwords, or in art – where realism hides meanings beneath a paintings descriptive surface; revealing women as prostitutes, or that the merry-making drinkers are gluttons.[19] Code devices used to convey secrets in WWII were the start of using airwaves for less idealistic means. By May 1941, Hitler had taken over Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. German U-boats were sinking American and Canadian ships supplying Great Britain from the start of the war, and accelerating the pace through the war. All the lost cargo made rationing acutely more painful and a solution wanting.

Solving the German Naval codes was imperative to winning the Atlantic war. One difference after WWI, and somewhere around 1928 leading into WWII, cryptology had changed from hand written to machine driven code.[20] The change to mechanical complexity took the minds of many puzzle solvers and mathematicians to break the German codes, and they could not do it without the help of electricity and new technologies. This transition from paper images to machine based de-vices to communicate had begun. For Kaczynski born in 1942, growing up a math prodigy and knowing how electricity and mechanics won the war, this must have had some influence on his thinking. Electronically transmitted codes and graphical representations belie elements of deception that WWII had to grapple with influencing thinkers all around the world.

The machine credited with aiding the Allies in deciphering the German codes was the Polish developed Bombe that was customized by the British to help crack the German Enigma machine codes. There were many Bombes built because the mathematical variables were too vast for humans alone to crack. The basic idea was that many messages sent would consist of some short piece of predictable text such as, "The weather today will be...." Then using this guess for the message that was being encrypted the cryptographers would take each encrypted message in turn and decide whether it was likely that it could have been an encryption of the guessed message. If they found one that was a possible match, they would analyze the message in more detail to produce a menu. A menu was just what computer scientists today call a graph, a set of nodes and edges, where the nodes are letters of the alphabet and the edges link the letters together a bit like the way a Metro map links stations (the nodes) by Metro lines (the edges). If the graph had suitable mathematical properties that they checked for, then the code breakers knew that the Bombe might be able to find the day key from the graph. The menu, or graph, then sent over to one of the Bombe machine operators who programmed the Bombe by using wires to connect letters together on the Bombe according to the edges of the menu. It worked – the Allies succeeded in winning the war by deciphering the German codes. Using electronics to perform the extensive computations required was undoubtedly a good use of mechanical and electronic ability, one a PhD in mathematics could appreciate, yet Kaczynski decidedly spurns all electronics as the Internet is coming into existence perhaps anticipating the invasion of privacy and loss of freedom by the demands instant access would create. The encrypted codes from the German Enigma machines took the work of many Bombe machines and the ability of hundreds of Allied decoders working around the clock, to defeat the Nazi’s and protect freedom.

Internet e-mail accounts that receive unwanted sales pitches, known as "spam" are an expanding concern of intrusion, and the Internet has morphed into a preference to have instant access if you want it, but the freedom to answer when you are ready. The Internet in some ways enhanced privacy via de-vices because e-mail and instant messaging have reduced the frequency of the incoming audible interruptions of telephones, yet it still comes with the expectation of instant access – a new kind of tethering. Computers, the first use of the Internet, went from a hobbyist pastime to being mass-produced, then to nodes on a network where growth has been unprecedented. Ideas about freedom since the Cold War have come to embody enabling technologies of “the military complex” i.e. the Internet and personal computers, the brains and nerves of the system in its most active (dangerous) guises. John Von Neumann, a mathematician, physicist, and inventor called early computers “All Purpose Machines” because they were blank – with no Nature and no purpose – except for what they were programmed to do. That changed as the discipline grew up and programmers grew the field to include artificial intelligence and all that we know computers do. Our most human instinct to communicate has led us to accept de-vices to connect with one another. Communicating with de-vices is a progression that some like Kaczynski see as a detriment to society and ourselves because it ties us to the expectation of unrestricted accessibility.

Science and technology have expanded our ability to communicate beyond language and print to a kind of sociological warfare. Military armies similar to teenaged friends are networked groups who polarize collaboration by acting in beneficial ways versus the ability to negatively target those in your own or unknown groups via electronic de-vices. These actually take away our freedom, as do photographs, movies, and the Internet, which create mental images not based in reality, yet we adopt them as if we were there. Similarities exist between armed forces who target their opposition with codes and technological weapons, and teens who act like warriors on social media to the point where stalking someone becomes addictive.[21] Alex from Washington State targeted by her ISIS friend and his network are another example. As deterministic objects have developed, humans have afforded the expense to have, even to adorn, and form relationships to machines, miniature de-vices that are more handheld computers allowing instantaneous access to information and others. This link between inanimate and living sees face-to-face communication remaining crucial, yet growing use of these devices does not support a balanced progression of responsibility. Our attachment to these networks without the intimacy of face-to-face space kills off what is vital – our connection to each other – by adding distance. Free will is a vitally important safeguard in face-to-face interactions, where just as in digital networks the concept depends on neighborly values to create a well-rounded online and personal community, but without which we already see the ill effects. The advent of wide de-vice use among all ages while concerning is not slowing despite Kaczynski’s warnings. We see more instances where electronic de-vices are used as weapons to cause harm employing distance as a shield, taking more effort and technologies to detect, and harder to combat because not in person.

Theodore Kaczynski American Techno-terrorist

Consequently, defending technology as driving social change in the name of progress, is met by a softer determinism intertwined with society that leaves de-vice promoters defensive, and opens for discussion our concerns and the tradeoffs vis-à-vis Kaczynski. Companies led by innovators like Steve Jobs, former head of Apple Computer, and David Sarnoff, head of RCA in the 1930’s, are examples of advancing technological de-vices for every home. Increasing connectivity via messaging systems has turned us into texting addicts – a kind of human being we have no history of: a new kind of human being. De-vice migration from the printing press, TV, telephones, and radio now create new “spaces” for humans to inhabit where we exist mentally and physically, allowing us to adapt to these new spaces that change us. Because de-vices open “spaces” that are thought of as “neutral” and “objective”, considered neither good nor bad, the same de-vices (cell phones for instance) used to trigger bombs also serve to call an ambulance making our boundaries around these spaces more loosely defined.

These are an unexpected consequence for the promoters of de-vices. The widely accepted adoption of such de-vices today makes it harder to know if the space we share with them is really neutral when people like Alex’s grandparents realize how the computer linked Alex to a whole network of ISIS operatives.

With an eye towards Kaczynski’s views, the idea that progress rests on technology leaves open questions, more today than in the past one hundred years, as our relationship to what progress is changes. In a sense, the promise of novelty and profits has kept the path of science on an inexhaustible conveyor belt of ever newer and more advanced products.[22] Historical data shows technology acts on society but also reflects the influence of socioeconomic forces on its development, thus it is a strong mediating factor rather than a determining influence on history. One only has to lose their privileged de-vice whether it is a telephone, car, or laptop to learn that there are other means to get from point A to B. The pain of the inconvenience is a most telling socio-psychological point, and why technological change, and not human evolution goes faster and faster.

Kaczynski had wanted to live alone in the woods, but the closer civilization, and specifically machines crushed his solitude, it took less than two decades before he lost self-control. Technology promoted as progress in actuality is driven by our relationship to new products and how fast they are adopted and evolve.

Kaczynski’s Manifesto (1995) written under the guise of an organization called FC (Freedom Club) in reality was one man: an anti-technology terrorist. He railed against industrialization and the effects that would happen the bigger the “System”, that controls us got. Followers that think he was right agree on some of his points in his Manifesto.

Believing that society destabilizes and that life goes unfulfilled by removing us from the work of surviving, he professed that by being unengaged to the land and survival allows one to seek dangerous outlets like drugs, crime, cults, and hate groups. These are dangerous he says only because the members of these groups share a primary loyalty to one another rather than to the “System”. He is against political correctness seeing it as the upper classes way to take on Leftist causes. Kaczynski asserts self-hatred as a Leftist trait, where taking on causes gave them what he considered ill placed satisfaction thereby his flagrant admittance to killing and maiming 23 people in defiance of our enthusiasm for progress. He targeted people he deemed promoters of technology, many of them peers, innocent and now deformed or dead. The psychologist that evaluated him to stand trial recorded the harm he imposed on people he deemed Leftists and promoting technology.[23] He foresaw that over socialization (found in liberal university intellectuals of upper-middle class) could lead to low self-esteem, powerlessness, guilt, etc.[24] He makes a distinction between real goals versus surrogate activities because he wants people to be satisfied and closer to nature by staying in smaller communities or tribes.

Giving bi-partisan criticism, he also said that conservatives are fools,

“They whine about the decay of traditional values, yet they enthusiastically support technological progress and economic growth. Apparently it never occurs to them that you can’t make rapid, drastic changes in the technology and the economy of a society with out causing rapid changes in all other aspects of the society as well, and the rapid changes inevitably break down traditional values.”[25]

While Kaczynski desperately wants the freedom to be on his land unhindered and uninterrupted in nature, he ignores the same right for others to pursue their own goals, seeing anything but his ideal of freedom as being controlled by a “System”, and not that a balance of ideals has the possibility to allow change without disaster.

The story about Alex, the woman that formed a new relationship with Jihadist leanings through her de-vice (a computer), to the concern of her family fits with Kaczynski’s warnings about “rapid changes in all other aspects of the society”. While we cannot go backwards to preindustrial times there are people like Kaczynski who want to define the American experience of getting back to nature. Kaczynski is more radical in his anti-technology phobia, but his concerns about the harm done to our bodies and psyches are real. He has become a spokesperson of sorts for modern terrorists against the prevalent use of modern technology. He continues to work out his anti-tech theory from his jail cell in Colorado. Beginning with an assessment of how quickly de-vice use has developed he mathematically works out,

“by way of illumination, compare the two-million-year lifetime of humanity with a 50-year-old man. Humans have been non-hunter-gatherers – that is farm-, village- or city-dwellers – for only the past 10,000 years; this so- called civilized portion of history represents a mere 0.5% of our species lifetime. On a scale of 50 years, then, this “modern” existence corresponds to just three months”.[26]

He reasons that going from a nomadic lifestyle, being introduced to writing, then the industrial age, to modern day where we are born into a time that he believes we still struggle to make sense of all that has changed because we are locked in the nomad self. Kaczynski asserts that this is bad for us because of the breakdown in our bodies through obesity (we live life through computer like devices), cancer (caused by pesticides and modern food), accidental death and urban sprawl (by automobiles), deliberate death (from wars over oil), and global plagues (global warming and AIDS). Our psyches degrade through depression, insomnia, attention deficit disorder, low academic performance, and anxiety from mental stress. Forty years ago, Kaczynski foresaw all of these ill effects caused by our growing use of de-vices plus a lessening of our ability to concentrate on longer, and more demanding tasks.

Kaczynski knew the potential for browsing on the Internet, a task that places high priority on efficiency and immediacy, but in reality does nothing for deep reflection or sustained concentration. Turkle too has a long list of what children know about de-vice use: “they get less attention, especially not full attention, as they are growing up with parents that do things one-handed like pushing swings while scrolling. Parents text at the dinner table physically close but mentally elsewhere, and to add insult defend this by saying it is better than being at work – yet because they are close, but not there, it is particularly excluding to their children.[27] Kaczynski’s Manifesto closely follows these concerns by challenging the modern worldview with his plan (not just a theory) to transition to a post-technological world. He makes four points:

  1. Humans evolved from low-tech conditions, which are our natural state of existence, “more of a “self-congratulatory myth of progress” which is “out of touch with reality”.[28]

  2. Present society is radically different from this natural state and imposes tremendous stress on us, and nature. “To lose one’s faith in “progress” all one has to do is look around and see the devastation of our environment, the spread of nuclear weapons, the excessive frequency of depression, anxiety disorders, and psychological stress, the spiritual emptiness of a society that nourishes itself principally with television and computer games… one could go on and on.”[29]

  3. Technological induced stress is bad now, but will only get worse to the point of humans being molded to serve the needs of the “System”, which is undignified, abhorrent, disastrous for nature, and dehumanizing. “Community, cooperation, and helping others have become deeply ingrained fundamental values in modern society. But what about the value supposedly placed on independence, individualism, and competition? Whereas the words “community”, “cooperation”, and “helping” in our society are unequivocally accepted as “good,” the words “individualism”, and “competition” are tense, two-edged words that must be used with some care if one wishes to avoid risk of a negative reaction. To illustrate this point with an antidote, when I was in seventh or eighth grade our teacher, who was apt to be somewhat rough with the kids, asked a girl to name the country that (sic) she lived. The girl was not very bright and apparently did not know the name of the United States of America, so she answered simply: “The United States.” “The United States of what?,” asked the teacher. The girl just sat there with a blank expression. The teacher kept badgering her for an answer until she ventured to guess: “The United States of Community?” Why “community’? Because of course “community” was a goody-goody word, the kind of word that a kid would use to get brownie points with a teacher. Would any kid in a similar situation have answered “United States of Competition” or “United States of Individualism”?

    Not Likely!”[30]

  4. Therefore, the “System” must be brought to an end.[31] “I agree with anarcho- primitivists that the advent of civilization was a great disaster and that the Industrial Revolution was an even greater one, I further agree that a revolution against modernity, and against civilization in general, is necessary.”[32]

His plan grows out of the frustration that our best thinkers are not addressing what he considers the most important issue of our time. He asks that if the use of all these de- vices destroys the planet and us because we did not know the repercussions, then is it (was it) worth it, and what can we do now for long term survival. He views the myth of progress, the stress it puts on nature and us as undignified and disastrous. From there, Kaczynski plans to end Industrial society blaming his former peers for their use of freedom because it differs from his own.

Kaczynski fears our best thinkers caught up in Leftist issues only disrupt the power process of the “System” by identifying with victims feelings of inferiority, powerless, and low self-esteem in causes like racism, sexism, feminism, and homophobia. The distinction for Kaczynski is that we just keep rethinking problems left over from the 19th century. Social inequality, colonialism, cruelty to animals, all some type of “ism” resulting from using technological devices, and different from the technological problem itself.[33] He writes that we can never anticipate the effects of technology though it is likely putting us on a road to disaster. Whether a revolution can avert it, or if the political left will be an obstacle to it, the myth of de-vices as progress is dying and especially obvious when we turn to nourishing ourselves with them. Notice how tied to de-vices people seem looking frequently even though there is nothing new in the last few minutes on them. This constant need for connection is not what Kaczynski considered freedom, nor are the isms that are victim mindsets that keep the real issue of impending technological doom from being worked on.

Freedom he says diminished as technology invaded our lives, and individual power to control the circumstances of one’s life was under siege even admitting in his Manifesto, “In order to get our message before the public with some chance of making a lasting impression, we have had to kill people”.[34] For Kaczynski new technology changes society, can never be reversed, individuals are forced to use it, or they take a passive attitude because it seems inevitable. Because of this, Kaczynski believes successful reconciliation of freedom with technology could only be through a revolution not reform, and “history is made by active, determined minorities, not by the majority”.[35] This would not be easy, as the “System” requires respect for laws and property rights where the enforcers, he sees these as CEO’s, the President, police, and scientists who are servants to the “System” as part of the problem. Diseases or effects are stealing, bribing, police brutality – all the ism’s we are taught to disapprove of because they disrupt the “System”, and are why laws are needed to keep it together. Kaczynski sees the “Systems” neatest trick, as turning rebellion to its own advantage by using activist issues to fill peoples needs to rebel. They imagine they are rebelling against the “System”, but really, they are doing the “System’s” work.[36] Kaczynski backs this theory saying each rebel generation imitates previous generations. Following people in power to give reason to rebel (talk radio hosts for instance), and insisting on extravagant reparations, or becoming enraged by any criticism of the cause, is a symptom that draws attention and resentment away from the “System”, where the real harm lies. The changed conditions, brought on by using the “System’s own de-vices, brings frustration leading to rebellious impulses which are then co-opted by the “System” in the service of the social changes it needs. The result: “we rebel against old values – no longer needed by the “System” in favor of the ones it wants us to accept.”[37] The “System” then described by Kaczynski protects progress particularly as technologies take away the freedom to control our lives, and this is done by brainwashing and harnessing our rebellious nature to stand for old causes, these isms so social change can be slipped in and gain acceptance.

This is quite a trick, but Kaczynski goes further saying the trick is not perfect. The “System” backfires in what Kaczynski describes as two types of propaganda that divides into an integrated and an agitated approach where socialization and dangerous emotional responses respectively are used. The first is a non-violent approach based on interdependence and cooperation. The second is when the “System” finds violence useful or necessary to achieve objectives. What Kaczynski proposes is that well trained people will not back violence because of the belief it is racist or Imperialist – the exact things they rebel against. If taught to love animals he asks, how can we handle egg laying farms and pig slaughterhouses? We effectively have harnessed the rebellious impulses because all of the ism’s that the “System” creates and people are trained to use as standard activist issues. In this, activists are doing the work of the “System” when politically incorrect events fall to censorship, a trick by the “System” to take powerful rebellious actions that could lead to a revolution into the service of modest reforms. This self-deception is the trick played on us. It is not that we want to go back to a primitive life, but Kaczynski believes early civilizations were more satisfied and suffered less psychological problems than modern man. It is possible that the ways we communicate since the 18th century and were thought to create more leisure, have not been used well, and they are making the United States an hedonistic culture that is making us sick. Kaczynski believes the task now is to change attitudes towards a single-minded goal to end the “Systems” technological industry as a definite and practical goal. At stake is the accelerated pace that harm in a very dangerous foolhardy, rash stage of ever greater changes to man will be the loss of our humanity.[38] For Kaczynski, progress as it changes where, and the conditions we live, will require us transforming humans into something too different from where we are from. That belief that we are evolving into a new kind of mental and physical human space challenges Kaczynski to invoke violence a seemingly last resort.

According to Kaczynski the list of social instincts we all hold dear are disappearing: honesty, courage, friendship, and freedom replaced by advances in technology and artificial intelligence that are already quite accepted (one of his examples is of biotechnology using human eggs and in-vitro-fertilization to get wanted characteristics), and could make humans obsolete. The values linked to progress (economic and technological growth) are creating tension that cannot be relieved through compromise, because those that love de-vice innovation are the ones that stand to profit from it while others believe it is inevitable. Neither is acceptable for Kaczynski as he believes there are yet other people that will reject it in a way that will be worse than what Stalin or Hitler did in their historical domains. Justice and punishment “will be demanded”, and further these people understand there can be no compromise, rejection based on the need to get rid of the good and bad, and in order to, they must reject civilization, materialism, worship nature, and freedom, and lastly that punishment will be for the promoters. When creating a revolution, “there are factors that inhibit the outcome – the biggest being – the inability to believe in the possibility”. Kaczynski likens propaganda, cowardice, and other pseudo-revolutions as obstacles to a build up of tension for real revolution, and doomed unless we stop buying and using things like de-vices without thinking about the future.

Possibly, why Kaczynski is so adamantly radical and why it is easy to apply a mental illness to his actions begins with Kaczynski starting college at age 16. Alston Chase attended Harvard two years ahead of Kaczynski, they took classes together, and he too retreated to the woods of Montana around the same time. Their somewhat parallel lives has led to a special interest in Kaczynski for Chase. Further research towards a book about him, he interviewed a friend that remembers urging Kaczynski’s father not to let him go to Harvard, as he was so young, but he recalls “Ted’s going to Harvard was an ego trip for him.”[39] At Harvard he volunteered to be a human subject in an experiment to measure how people react under stress subjected to intensive interrogation, what the Primary Investigator, Henry Murray called, “vehement, sweeping, and personally abusive attacks, assaulting his subjects’ egos and most-cherished ideals and beliefs.”[40] This Chase says could be why he is so determined not to let the “System” dehumanize us.

Psychologist Sally Johnson’s evaluation reveals that it was at Harvard the Kaczynski started to fantasize about living a primitive life where he was an agitator, rousing mobs to frenzies of revolutionary violence. He read the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Oswald Spengler, and Joseph Conrad, which could have had a profound effect on some students, especially the brightest, most conscientious, and least mature. With these facts: he is only 16, he is highly susceptible to influence, and abuse, Chase asks could Harvard have produced the most intellectual serial killer.[41]

Kaczynski believes that what stops us from this hard goal of a revolution is morality, an important tool to control us, and where only by liberating ourselves towards a natural morality or fairness found in all cultures can we escape the brainwashing of the “System”. Of all the moral principles, Kaczynski interprets keeping promises or agreements as individually believed – not based on authority – as the most important. The other principles of morality that condemn harming others, retaliation, returning kindness, protecting the weak, and not lying are mostly universally held, practical, humanly decent, but he sees we can make exceptions, particularly in keeping promises for a cause.

“There is a “natural” (and in some sense perhaps universal) morality – or, as I have preferred to call it, a concept of fairness – that tends to keep our conduct toward other people “decent” even when we have discarded all formal morality… morality is used for many purposes that have nothing to do with human decency or with what I’ve called “fairness”. Modern society in particular uses morality as a tool in manipulating human behavior for purposes that often are completely inconsistent with human decency… Thus revolutionaries have decided that the present form of society must be eliminated, there is no reason why they should hesitate to reject existing morality; and their rejection will by no means be equivalent to a rejection of human decency… no denying, however, that revolution against the techno-industrial system will violate human decency and the principles of fairness. With the collapse of the system, whether it is spontaneous or a result of revolution, countless innocent people will suffer and die. Our current situation is one of those in which we have to decide whether to commit injustice and cruelty in order to prevent a greater evil”.[42]

His problem lies with keeping promises, a moral issue rooted in autonomy, where authority abandoned him, something that Johnson uncovered in her evaluation.

Adamant that humankind has to decide to prevent a greater evil, Kaczynski circles back to justifications of WWII where millions of people died or were maimed in order to keep the world free, so acceptable too, would be a revolution against technological “Systems”. Oddly, he does not address the Bombe, the technological device that was instrumental in ending the war. Instead, he jumps to the solution that effective revolutionaries are prepared to dispense with the achievements of civilization.[43] Motivating people to work against a future evil is easier than that of a present evil. One example he gives is population control, saying the people with you would not be having children, but your opponents would have children. “… a revolutionary movement needs an enemy, it needs someone or something to hate… working against overpopulation, then who is your enemy? Pregnant women? I don’t think that would work very well.”[44] He says that morality will be irrelevant if the human race does not exist, or so changed that how we function becomes meaningless so his choice would be to give a few smart non- Leftist committed people the historical data and let them build a plan of action.

Kaczynski desperately wants separation from Leftists whom he believes already “infest” the existing anti-technology movement. Only a nucleus of non-Leftists will be able to build a new movement, a revolution, as a realistic alternative; one that keeps our human dignity though even attitudes of what is acceptable to human dignity have changed in response to the needs of the “System”. One reason is that as problems go unsolved we adapt and learn to accept it, this helplessness is prevalent and movies, social media, advertising propaganda let us change the subject or forget – a passive resignation that keeps us weak. Weakness in morality and Leftists working for the “System” are what allow us to accept de-vices, so Kaczynski works on what could make us resist.

Firm in his belief that reform will not work, and that dissatisfaction by itself is not enough, he says what we need is a myth. Someone, like the Prophet Mohammad because the role of a Revolutionary is as a catalyst for new conditions and new ideas that arouse new hope and show a way out, and we cannot wait too long to build a revolution because once it is necessary we may find that is it too late. His writing at times sounds fanatical, and as his fury of intense disregard for modern innovations grows, we can see in figure 2 below how his physical appearance illustrates a potential derangement from his teens, his arrest, and how he looks more recently in jail:

Figure 2: Images of Kaczynski Teenaged, Captured, and in his Sixties

He knows letting go of modern technology will be hard yet believes if we do not let go, we will lose everything. Hopelessness and apathy will also ruin the movement. AIDS would not have spread without modern means of transportation, cancer is a modern way of life problem, and Ray Kurzweil’s law of accelerating returns is, “false because computers can do the number crunching, sure, but not the technological progress part – he is dead wrong that humans can control the path that technological progress will take”.[45] Those people that promote, research, and fund tech “should be punished, and criminally charged”, and is why Kaczynski said that after years of being angry he finally did something. Without a modern day idol to move people to action, Kaczynski thinks it will be harder to resist the path to technological change, and those promoters not held responsible leads him to take action on his own.


Print caused much trash to circulate, but it also helped disseminate the thoughts of philosophers. That is to say that any technology could do anything but add itself on to what we already are.[46] We rely on control and prediction to avoid this because often like heroin the effect is immediate upon contact. This particular sort of problem, as Marshal McLuhan, (d. 1980), Canadian philosopher of communication theory popularized, requires noticing the change of scale, pace, or pattern that innovations introduce into human affairs. Our reactions to actions still link back to a mechanical age where slow movement assured delays and detachment for some amount of time. Today the action/reaction occurs almost at the same time even though we know thinking in old fragmented space and time patterns of a pre-electrical age aid understanding. An awareness of how globally humans are impacted increases our responsibility to each other where the next key step, is to anticipate change. McLuhan in, Understanding Media, 1964, coined the phrase, “the message is the medium” which refers not to what innovation puts out, but rather the subtle changes we recognize, however slight, that indicates a new message. This is not unlike Kaczynski though he does not cite McLuhan in his writing. Language is a broadcast outward of our thoughts in a world where we regularly take in messages. When we can notice these effects from a new medium at an early stage then we have a chance to control it, much like thinking before we speak. This is the only way we can be ahead of changes that inventions and innovations create before unanticipated consequences become pervasive. Human society is subtly changing, creeping into our lives as a part of a societal problem caused by more, and more, technological acceptance, and something Kaczynski felt was unmanageable. Both he and McLuhan perceived any small subtle changes brought on by innovations led to broader ramifications because we are slow to react and cannot control it.

Today our networked society finds the Internet globally servicing our personal and organizational networks with a dominant trend towards social autonomy. This type of freedom comes as a direct result of a culture of a networked society. History will add up the positives and negatives that accumulate. Advanced societies have reexamined the old view of history that progress shapes attitudes because of repercussions in underdeveloped countries. Longer life and more children for one can be real problems if you do not have the means too support them. A common understanding is that technology politically motivates change, yet Enlightenment rationalism, the belief that technological innovation is the primary agent of change, paves the way for an increasingly pessimistic view of history. By1787 a prevailing view of technological progress was, “A man oppressed by extreme want is prepared for all evil, the idler is ever prone to wickedness, while the habits of industry, filling the mind with honest thoughts, and requiring the time for better purposes, do not leave leisure for mediating or executing mischief.”[47] Contrast this to Kaczynski’s view 20 years ago when he wrote,

“Oh! say the technophiles, ‘Science is going to fix all of that! We will conquer famine, eliminate psychological suffering, make everybody healthy and happy!’ Yeah sure. That was what they said 200 years ago. The Industrial Revolution was supposed to eliminate poverty, make everybody happy, etc. The actual result has been quite different.”[48]

Thus in the final analysis what we value as humans helped by the ease, long reach, and speed of everything we can do leaves open a path of destruction if desired. Value assessed in bits and bytes determined by changes in our interpersonal dynamics are less obvious than the effects or changes brought on by de-vices. The content of the medium seems to blind us to its character, its potency, and the effect on us, making it difficult to monitor. What McLuhan and Kaczynski among others in their own ways realized was that when we notice change – it is at that early stage when we have the chance to influence innovation before it becomes pervasive.

There are levels of sociotechnical change that are prone to technological determinism.[49] The level of research conducted directly influences the degree of change emphasized in historical interpretations. A vertical integration of levels based on multiple societal forces includes a methodology of direct attention to actors, institutions, and processes that include increasing the span of de-vice networks. Looking between these two levels there is an intermediate place, where for example research and the market meet. If technology is considered a term for these de-vice networks that span society, this offers a better framework for integrating the social changes of technology and the technological shaping of society. This would help decipher who pays the cost for efficiency and growth, and who engineered it in the first place. The Japanese who are early adopters of technology, are recognizing that screen time has led to social isolation. They have introduced robots and AI pets, as facilitators of human contact networks as a cure for the too intense immersion in digital connectivity.[50] We see that people in a networked life are becoming less interested or arguably incapable to take chances in real life, and by talking to robots the Japanese are hoping this puts us back in touch with one another. Yet talking to a robot seems to play into technological determinism, especially when one is physically close to other humans whose attention is in a virtual space, and not on the fellow humans nearby. In giving over that responsibility one day to an “other” and most likely a robotic type of helper, we are accepting that technology really does help even when it does not. Especially when in event after event we blame technology for losing a life, a relationship, a job, even usefulness as it pervades our lives. All of the bad use and results of de-vices could be much worse if it were not for morality in counter to what seems wrong. Without participating and radicalizing his response, Kaczynski will never know this firsthand, but there is attention to how we are implementing some technologies with attention to moral outcome all a work in progress.

The Internet in existent for fifty plus years has opened the door to use that harms, now seeing divisive use, but seemingly creeping up on humans who are slow to react.

Hiding in the Internet’s web to communicate for deceptive purposes, for bullying, stealing information, as a tool to hide behind, and even lure people away from a life inside walls, is an adaptive migration of intent. De-vice fans appreciate the options, fun, excitement, and fiendish fascination of computers.[51] Early adopters of computers thought they were good for anyone interested in mental creation, abstraction, democracy, or concerned about power. Computers were not repetitive or dehumanizing because they were machines, and because they were designed that way – to be neutral (except in the case of bombs, guns, and death camps). We bond to de-vices, and not casually, our personalities intertwine, and we identify with them in ways Kaczynski never experienced. Altering your identity or intention is conscious, often secretive, unlawful, and for moral consideration. What we want from technology and what we are willing to do to accommodate it starts at a young age. We give children toys like the iDog™, or the Furby™ that respond to their actions and give the appearance that they are real even as they are a mass of plastic, fake fur, and wires. When children get sick of them they can hit the reset button, unlike toys that do not have a switch, and where “killing” it requires an ethical decision, say cutting off a favorite dolls head, with the potential for feelings of guilt. Arguably de-vices are absent the same richness of human contact, the lessons of developing mutuality or empathy. Kaczynski may not have known all of the details but he did move to the woods because he did not want to be part of what these things do to us. For the rest of us, while not risk-free, companionship with people face to face allows for an opening to deeply know someone, something seemingly more pure, while attachments to de-vices is an enchantment that is changing our way of being in the world.


Historian and philosopher Lewis Mumford (d. 1990) said it was less that tools and technology defined human beings, and more our cognitive ability which allows us to use tools to our greatest advantage.[52] The emergence of language rather than the development of hand tools was far more consequential for the advancement of human beings into a complex social order. Turkle sees today’s hobbyists appropriating computer technologies in highly personal ways.[53] The result being subjective de-vices as a host material object helping us to think and work through rhetoric. We begin to see programmers say they feel safe (a personal meaning) in their relationship to their de-vice, a distinction over just doing the job, being absorbed in its holding power. Performance may be important but the de-vice starts to have an essential nature. Could this be everything Steve Jobs wanted: legitimatize the connection beyond the hobby; it has a part in the real world in its usefulness. A syntonic relationship to technology built on aesthetics: less software patches, cleaner code, and intellectual integrity. The Internet has created a safer more liberating place to be for some, yet another view is that de-vices are replacing religion as the opiate of the masses. People want to be on the Internet for freedom in that no corporation runs the Internet; there are no official censors, no boss, board of directors, or stockholders. Nodes are peer to peer and technical rules are not social or political. We do not want technology to kill or ruin us however, we want it for the ideals we hold true:

freedom, information, and independence. It is becoming clear from all of the ill uses though that we will have to negotiate for it, and learn its real value and usefulness. Perhaps the publication of Kaczynski’s Manifesto and his refusal to accept an insanity plea has prompted scrutiny and a real awareness of how we are losing the ideals we hold dear.

Kaczynski was right, that digital de-vices encourage us to search for information, not to ponder ideas. Users are easily distracted by other temptations on these de-vices where multitasking is rampant, and screens coax us to skim rather than read in-depth.

What is more, if the way we read is changing, so is the way we write. In response to changing reading habits, many authors, and publishers are producing shorter works and ones that do not require reflection or close reading.[54] We see more people with a life mix of real versus virtual which is much like having an affair. Boundaries are non-existent because we have these de-vices with us at all times. We lose privacy, the ability to focus on one thing, and connectivity comes from the up in the sky. We act with urgency to respond to email, texts, calls, (we talk about shooting off an email) where it is hard to find uninterrupted time to think, so we shorten our writing to have more impact in fewer characters. A real potential for making bad decisions exists as adequate time for complicated issues creates a convenient wall that divides how we interact with one another.

Families are a unique microcosm of users. Mothers and fathers keep in touch with children while at jobs. Time with de-vices eat up valuable time that instead of spent as downtime becomes more like attention sharing. This growing use has gained full acclimation with teens. Teens are waiting for a connection so downtime becomes improbable, though it is not limited to teens. If de-vices are both anxiety building and fast paced, cultivating self-reflection while hoping for something becomes an exercise of psychological proportion. We do not see where our connections are, or know with whom our images or thoughts are being shared. This makes Kaczynski’s point, as does texting, which has taken over as the preferred mode of communication over email and the telephone for many people. These choices mean earlier adoption, a change of navigating the world alone particularly for teens. We cannot disregard the effects of science and technology or the enormous causes it garners. We should likely try to avoid relativism, materialism, and a mentality based on practicality when we can see what lurks nearby might be harmful to those we care for. This too little, too late approach makes Kaczynski’s point, and while not original to him, his use of terrorism did reinvigorate the discussion of technological determinism.

Global increased speed of communicating creates problems that typical of technological speed takes effect before it triggers a signal. Children are sharing unformed thoughts over the Internet jumping from friend to friend without learning to think for them selves. They know they get less attention in that texting and cell connections do not assure ones full attention modeled by the adults in their lives, in fact they almost never get undivided attention from friends either. We are mentally engaged to whatever happens on these de-vices, and time is divvied up between connections. Computers used to tie people down to a set place, now intrusions are anywhere, giving us permission to focus attention on a de-vice. All too common are longer interruptions because we need to finishing typing or we say wait a minute, only to then say, “Sorry what was that again”, missing what eyes see and ears hear because we are not paying full attention. This frightens all but the most naïve of us. It is instrumental to Kaczynski’s path. Missing out means missing the important things, maybe that your child lies in their room talking to someone they do not know, about drug use, thoughts of running away, or bullying because no one is watching, and the tools are there.

As we have seen, this thesis highlights the illusion of a personal connection at the loss of real human contact unseen until now in our historical timeline. Phone calls are more honest, letters are more personal, and online personas are premeditated. We see the loss of authenticity as a result. Are a few good friends better than thirty online friends are? These ties are really just a preoccupation while we lose interest in friendships to people nearby, so enmeshed with connectivity that we neglect each other. We can see the costs. If while the Internet is still young we can learn to be present, more polite, and more deliberate then we have a better chance of not alienating each other.

Technologically driven interconnectivity and communication promotes the possibility of ultimate disaster yet we generally embrace it. Kaczynski did not want technologies of the world to go any further and would have preferred to go backwards and lose the attachments of what it offered. His connection to just the land and survival, that American earthy pull to be self sufficient, more local, has its lure and is being forgotten as wilderness gets squeezed out by our growing population. Kaczynski carried a hate about that infringement and addressed it by doing the things he did, so he is a lunatic, an outlaw, in most minds. Prevailing thought is that technologies that are even more powerful will be advantageous. When used for good things like checking on a loved one via remote camera there is a sense that the ease of connection is a good substitute for being there. Political connectivity is one of the most useful of uses, while what Steve Jobs did by giving school children Apple computers in classrooms since 1975 was create two or three generations now of his graphical user interface so widely accepted. Apple is one of the most profitable companies in the world today partly because the technology is unsurpassed in creating a cult like following. Users defend their loyalty in what can only be described as passion for how it works and what it does for them. Too many of us would at least agree that technical solutions tend to introduce new problems.

Determinism is commonly associated with a general anti-modernism. However, faith in the past involves no less than faith in the future, and idealizing the future or the past involves denying present realities.


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[1] Rukmini Callimachi, 27 June 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/world/americas/isis-onlinerecruitingamerican.html?_r=0

[2] Kaczynski, J., Theodore. Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. “The Unabomber”. Introduced by Dr. David Skrbina. Washington: Feral House, 2010. p. 305.

[3] Kaczynski, J., Theodore. Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. “The Unabomber”. Introduced by Dr. David Skrbina. Washington: Feral House, 2010. p. 228.

[4] Klosterman, Chuck. Eating the Dinosaur. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2009. Chuma.cas.usf/~pinsky/tests/FAIL Klosterman.pdf. pg. 1.

[5] Ibid. p 2.

[6] Kaczynski, J., Theodore. Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. “The Unabomber,” introduction by Dr. David Skrbina. (Washington DC: Feral House, 2010). p. 68.

[7] Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology Than From Each Other. New York, NY: Basic Books, A Member of the Perseus Book Group, 2011. p. 1.

[8] Ibid, p. 1.

[9] Ibid, pg. 12.

[10] Nielsen recently found that children send eight text messages for every phone call they make or receive. See Anna-Jane Grossman, “I Hate the Phone,” Huffington Post, October 14, 2009, www.huffingtonpost.com/anna-jane-grossman/i-hate-the-phone_b_3201008.html.

[11] Federman, Mark. Chief Strategist, McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology, What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message?, http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage.htm

[12] Interview by John Jay Sentinel with Ted Kaczynski. http://www.wildism.org/docs/tjk-interview.html.

[13] In 2012 there were 309 million people microblogging in China (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microblogging_in_China)

[14] Kulh, K. Patricia. Baby Talk: Every infant is a natural-born linguist capable of mastering any of the world’s 7,000 languages like a native. Scientific American, Vol. 313, Number 5, November 2015. p. 66.

[15] Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology Than From Each Other. New York, NY: Basic Books, A Member of the Perseus Book Group, 2011. p 227.

[16] Latour, Bruno. Visualisation and Cognition: Drawing Things Together, www.bruno.latour.fr, No. 21. p. 11.

[17] KBZK Bozeman interview 4 April 2016.

[18] Latour, Bruno. Visualisation and Cognition: Drawing Things Together, Bruno.latour.fr, No. 21. p. 9.

[19] Alpers, Svetlana. The Art of Describing. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983. p. xix

[20] Kahn, David. Seizing the Enigma. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991. p. 61.

[21] For cases where cyber bullying have led to suicide or death see: The Ryan Halligan Case (1989-2003), The Megan Meier Case (1992-2006), The Jessica Logan Case (1990-2008), The Hope Witsel Case (1996- 2009), The Tyoer Clementi Case (1991-2010), The Amanda Todd Case (1996-2012) and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people with approximately 4,400 deaths every year. The CDC estimates that there are at least 100 suicide attempts for every suicide among young people. More than 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide and nearly 7 percent have attempted it. http://nobullying.com/six-unforgettable-cyber- bullying-cases.

[22] Smith, L, Michael. Recourse of Empire: Landscapes of Progress in Technological America. Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism, Edited by Merritt Roe Smith and Leo Marx. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1994, p 48

[23] Psychologist Dr. Sally C. Johnson’s evaluation of Kaczynski for his trial found: His writings show him to be associated with placing a bomb at the University of Illinois in May 1978, which partially exploded. It is alleged that in May 1979 he placed a bomb contained in a cigar box, which exploded when John Harris, a student at Northwestern University, opened it. It is alleged that in November 1979 he succeeded in getting a bomb aboard American Airlines Flight 444 from Chicago; the bomb exploded en route, causing an emergency landing. It is alleged that in June 1980 he mailed a bomb to Percy Wood, which exploded causing injury. It is alleged that in October 1981 he placed a bomb at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, which detonated without injury. It is alleged that in May 1982 he sent a bomb to Professor Patrick C. Fischer at Vanderbilt, which was opened by his secretary, Janet Smith, causing serious injuries. It is alleged that in July 1982 he placed a bomb that exploded when it was moved by Professor Diogenes Angelakos, Director of Research at the University of California at Berkeley. It is alleged that in June 1985 he mailed a bomb to Boeing, which was detonated without in injury. It is alleged that in May 1985 he placed a bomb at the University of California at Berkeley which resulted in John Hauser being seriously injured. It is alleged that in November 1985 he mailed a bomb from Salt Lake City to Dr. James McConnell, who along with his assistant were injured. It is alleged that in February 1987 he placed a bomb disguised as a road hazard at CAAMS, Inc., in Salt Lake City which exploded and injured an employee. It is alleged that in December 1994 he mailed a bomb from San Francisco that exploded and killed Thomas Mosser in North Caldwell, New Jersey. It is also alleged that he mailed a variety of correspondence to individuals and newspapers describing the activities as perpetrated by an anarchist group called FC (Freedom Club). It is alleged that he mailed correspondence to several individuals and newspapers to outline demands to have the documented entitled Industrial Society and Its Future" published.

In regard to his current offenses, he is charged With mailing a bomb to Rentech Computer Company which exploded on 12/11/85, killing Hugh Scrutton. He is also charged with seriously injuring Charles Epstein a geneticist at the University of California and Professor David Gelernter, a professor of Computer Sciences at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut by bombs which exploded respectively on 06/22/93 and 06/24/93. He is charged with the death of Gilbert

B. Murray, as the result of a bomb mailed to him which exploded in Sacramento, California. Extensive information regarding the nature of the bombs and intended use of the bombs was available from the writings of Mr. Kaczynski.

[24] Kaczynski, Theodore. Unabomber Manifesto, Industrial Society and it’s Future. Originally published in the New York Times, 1995 Internet source: well.sf.ca-us.

[25] Ibid. p. 10.

[26] Kaczynski, J., Theodore. Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. “The Unabomber,” introduction by Dr. David Skrbina. (Washington DC: Feral House, 2010), 19.

[27] Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology Than From Each Other. New York, NY: Basic Books, A Member of the Perseus Book Group, 2011. p 267.

[28] Kaczynski, J., Theodore. Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. “The Unabomber,” introduction by Dr. David Skrbina. (Washington DC: Feral House, 2010), 126.

[29] Kaczynski, J., Theodore. Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. “The Unabomber,” introduction by Dr. David Skrbina. (Washington DC: Feral House, 2010), 128.

[30] Kaczynski, J., Theodore. Technological Slavery: The Collected Writings of Theodore J. Kaczynski, a.k.a. “The Unabomber,” introduction by Dr. David Skrbina. (Washington DC: Feral House, 2010), 160.

[31] Ibid, p. 26.

[32] Ibid, p. 171.

[33] Ibid, p. 124.

[34] Ibid. p. 20.

[35] Ibid. p. 42

[36] Ibid, p.194.

[37] Ibid, p.197.

[38] Ibid, p.212.

[39] Chase, Alston, June 2000 Issue. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2000/06/harvard-and-the- making-of-the-unabomber/378239. p.19.

[40] Ibid, p. 30.

[41] Ibid, p. 5.

[42] Ibid, p. 243

[43] Ibid, p. 259.

[44] Ibid, p. 264.

[45] Ibid, p. 336.

[46] McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media, New York: McGraw Hill Company, 1965. p. 11.

[47] The Philosophy of Manufactures. Cambridge, MA; MIT Press, 1982. Tench Coxe Speaks for Factories, 1787 pp 33-62.

[48] Kaczynski, Theodore. Unabomber Manifesto, Industrial Society and it’s Future. Originally published in the New York Times, 1995 Internet source: well.sf.ca-us. p. 37.

[49] Misa, J., Tomas. Retrieving Sociotechnical Change From Technological Determinism. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press, , Does Technology Drive History? The Dilemma of Technological Determinism, Edited by Merritt Roe Smith and Leo Marx, 1994. Pp. 115-139.

[50] Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology Than From Each Other. New York, NY: Basic Books, A Member of the Perseus Book Group, 2011. p. 146.

[51] Nelson, Ted. Computer Lib, 1974, Countdown to Cyberspace: Chapter 13, The Major Problems in the History of American Technology: Documents and Essays. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Co. Edited by Merritt Roe Smith and Gregory Clancy, 1998. P. 474

[52] Mumford, Lewis, The Pentagon of Power, 1971. London: Secker & Warburg

[53] Turkle, Sherry. The Second Self, 1982. p 487. The Major Problems in the History of American Technology: Documents and Essays, Houghton Mifflin Co., New York, NY. Edited by Merritt Roe Smith and Gregory Clancy, 1998.

[54] Baron, Naomi. Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World, New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2015. p. 116.