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Techno-Horror: Technology as the new supernatural

Today we have a very special guest blog from the extremely talented author Michael Brookes, he will be talking about how technology, and fear of it, is making itself the new supernatural threat in horror.


Techno-Horror: Technology as the new supernatural

Horror stories are tales about fear, as such they were among the first stories ever told. Human beings have changed since then, we have evolved into a richly interconnected society and have developed technologies that would seem like magic to our ancestors even just a few generations back. Throughout all that change there are still fears that exist in a place so ancient they are difficult to suppress, although we have found ways to combat them. The fear of the dark is something that still lurks inside many of us, we can banish it at the flick of a switch.

Much of our fear stems from the unknown, we didn’t know what the silver disk in the sky was. What happens when you have scary visions when you sleep? What happens when you die? To try and understand those fears, or to provide comfort we created supernatural entities. Demons were beings sent to torment us, angels to protect us (or wipe our first born depending on who your king was at the time).

Science and technology has helped push some of those fears away from us, or at least weaken the entities we created to protect or torture ourselves. Evil is not a supernatural force, it is simply the thoughts in our head, the actions of the disturbed.

The problem with technology is that it brings change and quite often that in itself causes fear, even more so in that while some people might understand the intricacies of technology or science, most of us do not. We take it on faith that something will work, that someone else understands how things work.

Another human tendency is to anthropomorphise, when our computer crashes we curse it, almost as if it was a malevolent entity deliberately making our lives worse. As we have discovered throughout our history fear of the unknown creates new terrors, now rather than the supernatural we have machines that fill in the blanks, they govern our lives in ways we have no control over. Computers inhabit almost every part of our lives, if a computer gets it wrong then it can cause more than simple distress.

Now imagine if the computer had a will of its own.

If a computer with the right connections sought to cause you harm, how different would that be from being hounded by demons?

Of course computers don’t have their own wills, not yet at any rate. There is an idea called the Technological Singularity, it’s a concept that technology will reach a point where it will evolve beyond our ability to understand or control it. How scary will technology be if such an event ever occurs, in supernatural terms they would deem it the Apocalypse.

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