Unfortunately, I’m guilty of the Borg Complex.
The Borg Complex refers to a specific form of technological determinism, but in my case, it’s also a psychological fallacy.
And yes, I’m guilty.
The Borg Complex: A Definition
The term Borg Complex was coined on a whim by L.M. Sacasas:
“A Borg Complex is exhibited by technologists, writers, and pundits who explicitly assert or implicitly assume that resistance to technology is futile. The name is derived from the Borg, a cybernetic alien race in the Star Trek universe that announces to their victims some variation of the following: ‘We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Resistance is futile.’”
Source: L.M. Sacasas 1Sacasas, L. M. (2013, March 1). Borg Complex: A Primer. L.M. Sacasas. https://thefrailestthing.com/2013/03/01/borg-complex-a-primer/
Do I qualify in the group of technologists, writers, and pundits?
Yes, I guess I do.
Have I been guilty of explicitly asserting or assuming that resistance to technology is futile?
Yes. More times than I can count.
Does knowing about the Borg Complex change my mind?
Yes, and no.
I still lean heavily towards the side of technological determinism.
I still think that resistance, for the most part, is futile.
But whether I’m right or wrong is beside the point — at least in this context.
Symptoms of the Borg Complex
Here are, according to L.M. Sacasas, some of the symptoms of the Borg Complex:
“1. Makes grandiose, but unsupported claims for technology
2. Uses the term Luddite a‑historically and as a casual slur
3. Pays lip service to, but ultimately dismisses genuine concerns
4. Equates resistance or caution to reactionary nostalgia
5. Starkly and matter-of-factly frames the case for assimilation
6. Announces the bleak future for those who refuse to assimilate
7. Expresses contemptuous disregard for past cultural achievements
8. Refers to historical antecedents solely to dismiss present concerns”
Source: L.M. Sacasas 2Sacasas, L. M. (2013, March 1). Borg Complex: A Primer. L.M. Sacasas. https://thefrailestthing.com/2013/03/01/borg-complex-a-primer/
Yes, I’ve been known to make such claims without supporting them with evidence. I’ve equated concerns to reactionary nostalgia. And I’ve been known to announce a bleak future on occasion.
Have I been wrong?
Well, it’s not evident that I’ve been explicitly wrong. Technology has proven to be a driving force majeure in society. Another way to put it: I could be right.
But being right is beside the point.
L.M. Sacasas puts it bluntly:
“We need more thinking, not less, and Borg Complex rhetoric is typically deployed to stop rather than advance discussion. What’s more, Borg Complex rhetoric also amounts to a refusal of responsibility. We cannot, after all, be held responsible for what is inevitable. Naming and identifying Borg Complex rhetoric matters only insofar as it promotes careful thinking and responsible action.”
Source: L.M. Sacasas 3Sacasas, L. M. (2013, March 1). Borg Complex: A Primer. L.M. Sacasas. https://thefrailestthing.com/2013/03/01/borg-complex-a-primer/
Mind Your Technological Determinism
I celebrate intellectual debate and diversity of thought. I would never seek to silence anyone proposing an opposing line of reasoning. Not consciously, at least.
I’ve been unconsciously seasoning my writing with sprinkles of technological determinism to close doors instead of opening them. Therefore, I think of the Borg Complex more as a psychological fallacy than a persuasion strategy.
Moving forward, I pledge to be more mindful of thinking, writing and discussing technology.
“The Borg Collective in Star Trek can be used as a cautionary tale for qualitative researchers, challenging simplicity in methodology and product, and making complex academic writing more accessible and enjoyable.”
Source: Qualitative Inquiry 4Brkich, C., & Barko, T. (2012). “Our Most Lethal Enemy?”. Qualitative Inquiry, 18, 787 – 797. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800412453019
PR Resource: Logical Fallacies and Biases
List of Logical Fallacies and Biases
As humans, we often fall for the tricks our own psychology plays on us. These “thinking errors” exist because they’ve often aided our survival. However, knowing and understanding various types of common fallacies and biases is helpful in everyday life.
Here are a few examples of logical fallacies and biases that I’ve come across while studying public relations and linguistics:
Learn more: 58 Logical Fallacies and Biases
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|Sacasas, L. M. (2013, March 1). Borg Complex: A Primer. L.M. Sacasas. https://thefrailestthing.com/2013/03/01/borg-complex-a-primer/|
|Brkich, C., & Barko, T. (2012). “Our Most Lethal Enemy?”. Qualitative Inquiry, 18, 787 – 797. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077800412453019|