Global Frequency spends great deals of its energy on looking at how humans differ from that of machines or other beings. I think this concept of human vs. machine is apparent throughout the entirety of the graphic novel, however the one moment I want to focus on specifically is the moment in the end of the chapter titled “Invasive.”
During this chapter, the team is faced with combating a being that is not human but has invaded the humans and are causing them to act in uncharacteristic ways. In this chapter Lana is called upon to look into a phenomenon that is occurring where people are being invaded by other world technology and in turn are becoming monsters. The entirety of this situation evolves to a point where Lana must figure out a way to corrupt the algorithm that the other worldly beings have created, and as such she must figure out a way to disable something that had years of thought put into it. Ultimately Lana realizes that she must put in an emotion that these other beings were unable to write into their own program because they do not know what this emotion is: love. By using her own experiences of love she is able to destroy the “perfect” algorithm. What I quite appreciated is that a gay love was used and shown, breaking the heteronormativity that is usually shown.
Global Frequency was able to play with the depiction of how they showed her love being used in two specific ways. The first is a mirroring back to a previous moment in the chapter. Right before Lana heads off to the scene of the event, there is a frame showing her leaning in to kiss Estelle goodbye. This frame is reflected when the chapter shows a frame flashing back to this first scene surrounded by the question “What defines the human race?” This lends the reader to understand that it must be love that separates humans from machines. The second way Global Frequency was able to play this idea of love being the thing that separates humans from machines was through Lana discussing how to get the antivirus in the last few frames of the chapter. (I particularly found joy in the comedy of the moment where Lana says “You may find that… well they may all be bisexual now.”) The use of these side comments and even more specifically the mirroring of frames is unique to graphic novels in that they can show these flash back/inside-the-character’s-mind moments without using any words which help to play into the powerfulness of these moments. This graphic novel as a form of narrative speaks to what technology is (or rather isn’t), while also using a unique medium to say it as such.
This concept that human relationships/love is something that has often been thought of as the thing that ultimately separates humans from machines. Because while machines can be programed to understand and identify what deep emotions—like that of love—are, they are unable to feel them for themselves, because there is something uniquely human about emotions.
In Martin Heidegger’s “The Question Concerning Technology” he speaks about the essence of technology and how it is ultimately a means to an end. In this case I think about this moment in Global Frequency concerning human relationships. The reason I tie these two together is because, if we think of technology as a means to an end then we can make sense of the technology that was used in creating this virus that caused the humans to become vicious beings. In this sense technology was the mean to the literal ends of people. However, when it came to relationships putting a stop to this end of existence, then suddenly this human relationship and human feelings were something that blocked technology from occurring. This idea that technology is a means to an end and this being it’s essential essence, is played with in this scene of Global Frequency because it uses humans to interact and interrupt technology from preforming its job.
It is interactions like this specific one that highlight that while technology is a means to an end and has great potential. However, humans and human emotions can get in the way of technology preforming at its highest potential—even if the potential leads to destructive and horrible things, as in this case. It plays with this idea that even if technology is created and tasked to preform beautifully, humans can destroy it, because humans will always have the power of human relationships and human emotions that technology does not have.