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The Concept of “Nigga Technology”

March 14, 2006

kr’s note: Despite the title, this is meant to be a serious post that is a social commentary of mine on several key issues that face the American Muslim community, as well as other Americans. I personally believe that such a discussion is not only relevant to present circumstances, but is a vital discourse that must occur among mature people who wish to effect positive change. Thus, focus on the message of this post instead of being caught up in some of the terminology and/or the introductory video clip. I think that if one ponders over my choice of this clip vis-a-vis the main point(s) of this post, one will understand why I chose it.


Ed Wuncler and Gin Rummy, from The Boondocks

Disclaimer: the clip itself contains profanity thay may be offensive to some readers. If you easily take offense to such words, then I suggest that you not watch the clip.

The modern world bears witness to the present human obsession with scientific and technological progress, as if each new technological development is a significant achievement for mankind. In an era when religion has been outcast as an unwanted child, technology, and its promise of a brighter future, has been embraced as a savior figure by the masses. It is as if technology has become the new religion for modernity; each corporation as a prophet, each new advancement as its rituals, and each new product offering salvation for human beings divorced from the Divine. We see it all the time in advertisements; the idea that owning and using a given product will not only improve one’s standard of living, but will also give a sense of fulfillment, an emotion desperately sought by each individual. As David Noble writes in The Religion of Technology (which I believe should be a must-read for everyone…), “…we routinely expect far more from our artificial contrivances than mere convenience, comfort, or even survival. We demand deliverance. This is apparent in our virtual obsession with technological development, in our extravagant anticipation of every new technical advance–however much each fails to deliver on its promise–and, most important, in our utter inability to think and act rationally about this presumably most rational of human endeavors.”

Alright kr, what the heck does this have to do with the Boondocks clip?

Keeping in mind the introductory paragraph, we see that technology not only permeates all our lives (I say this as I type this on my laptop and I can see  my mp3 player and phone on the desk nearby), but this desire to take part in each new invention is part of the modern pscyhe. And thus we have hosts of technology-based websites, corporations, magazines, etc. to keep consumers informed and desirous of each new gadget that comes out. Again, the idea being sold with each of these products is that by having such a product and engaging in using it, one will enjoy contentment and bliss. And this is perhaps why we see everyone desperately trying to get their hands on the latest cell phone, computer, palm pilot, or whatever else that offers them a piece of earthly nirvana. Ironically, once they get their hands on a given gadget, they end up in one of several possibilities: having to deal with a new host of problems due to the gadget; relegated to using the gadget for inane purposes; perpetually doomed to purchase accessories and upgrades to keep said gadget desirable; the list goes on, but I think the point is clear. Of course, the irony is that corporations would then have one believe that all these problems can be solved by the latest version or upgrade of their product. Thus the cycle continues, so it goes.

I found this Boondocks clip to be brilliant social commentary because it highlights many of these above issues, especially how they affect the lower socioeconomic classes of this country. Despite the supposed price barrier that would theoretically disallow people from the coveted 18-35 demographic from the Latino, African American, etc. communities, such technological gadgets find their way into their hands regardless. I believe that the tragedy here is that innumerable young minds with untapped potential are lost due to their affair with technology simply because they want to fit in. All human beings crave acceptance by their peers, and it is telling to note that in many demographics, possessing such gadgetry is a factor in being “in” or looking inwards from the outside. The religion of technology preaches that unless specific sacramental garments are worn by its members, admission into its temple is not allowed. Despite its stringent requirements for admission, I must admit that the religion of technology is somewhat egalitarian: it encompasses members that swear fealty regardless of social, economic, religious, and cultural background, uniting them through bonds of technological brotherhood. In short, this is why one will see everyone not only viewing each gadget as a mechanical messiah, but also using it for ridiculous purposes. This is what is meant by “nigga technology”, best defined by Gin Rummy (in the clip, voiced by Samuel L. Jackson) and Ed Wuncler III (voiced by Charlie Murphy) as:

Gin Rummy: Nigga… technology. Technology for niggas… and don’t start trippin and sh** and start callin me a racist cause I don’t mean nigga in a disrespectful way… I mean it as a general term for ignant mothafu**as. Anybody of any race can be an ignant mothafu**a…

Ed Wuncler III: Shiii, I be textin my a** off. Sh**, bit*hes like textin’. I be textin’ em all the time. Matter of fact, I also be textin’ my weed man too cause he don’t like to be on the phone, so I text ‘em.

GR: Case in point.

This is the danger of “nigga technology” as it afflicts everyone who’s ever possessed a hi-tech contraption. As a case study, I think that the above is captured in the technology of text messaging via cell phones and two-way pagers. Like Gin Rummy, I just don’t get why people would have entire conversations for hours and hours using their thumbs to type out messages on a device smaller than a wallet instead of just calling someone and speaking to them on the phone. I can understand that text messages have their use at times; but the reality is that most text messages are moronic messages such as “ohmigod, lol”, “im bored”, “that guy is so cute”, etc. (Personally, however, I’m sick and tired of the concept of text messages… stop texting me: I hate receiving them, I hate reading them, I hate sending them… which is exactly why I stopped responding to nearly all text messages lately. If someone wants to contact me, they can call me; if I don’t pick up, I’ll call back.) Anyway, I was referring more to the people whose communication-lives consist of nothing but texting. I mean, have you ever seen these people, hacking away at their stupid little devices as if their conversations are such that the fate of the world hangs in the balance? And if one wonders why, I would argue that through doing all this, despite how idiotic it is, people expect to find some satisfaction in being connected to human beings. The quote from Crash perhaps best describes this need for human contact, “I think we miss that touch so much, that we crash into each other, just so we can feel something.” The irony, of course, is that despite all these means of communication we have, our present generation is perhaps the most disconnected one in the annals of human history. And yet, we continue to anticipate new products, continue to buy, continue to text… and continue to hope for redemption through technology. “Thus have We made alluring to each people its own doings (6:108)”

The solution, then, lies not in adopting a Luddite worldview and branding technology as useless or evil. Technology, in and of itself, is a neutral force whose powers can be harnessed for either productive or destructive ends, and Muslims ought to use it for beneficial ends. The onus is to realize that it does not–and never will–fulfill the spiritual void in every human’s life that can only be filled by a sound connection to the Divine and service to His Dependents. Certainly, it may have a role in that process, but let us understand that its role is auxiliary, at best.  Thinking that it is anything more is just plain ignant.

Oh, and stop texting me.

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34 Comments
  1. first one 🙂 seems like an interesting post. I am sure kaaz has something to do with this…haha! i am gonna reply after my midterm to both ur posts (hajj memoirs and the nigga tech) Insha Allah.

  2. Anonymous permalink

    Dude don’t be hosting clips on the UIC MSA thing. Encourage people to right click and save as instead of playing and using up bandwidth

  3. lol that clip was hilarious, i love boondocks…i’ll read the rest of the post later =)

  4. MashAllah KR, this is a very insightful post. I was kinda skeptical when I saw the title and I wondered “where’s he going with this?”… but as usual, you managed to tie it all together to make some very powerful points at the end. I too always was irritated with people texting all the time, and this idea that they do it to fit in and be connected (and find some peace by doing so) is very profound.
    On another note, T-Mobile did a commercial recently that had some similar themes. In the commercial, the kids in the family are texting all day and night, and the parents are shocked by the phone bill due to text messages.

  5. Anonymous permalink

    “oh…dude stop…my name is Hisham…i whine…stop it…stop it guys…why do people make fun of me? why? MSA blah blah blah…”
    do some push-ups damnit!
    nigger-ul-haq

  6. that wasn’t as long as i expected…so i actually read it all.great points kr. i love how you mix all of society and give it an islamic point of you, thank you for that.may Allah grant you more rishta’s.

  7. oh, and i’m a text messaging king. so uhm, i’ll consider it an honor that you actually texted me back like 10 times in a row 🙂

  8. The last paragraph was powerful.
    JazakAllah khayr

  9. hmmmmm nice post. very insightful. the guy next to me in bio drives me crazy by constantly looking at his phone to see if he got text messages. people need to get a life.nice way of islamically tying it up.and i can’t believe I beat A & E in giving you eprops.

  10. wow…ur post made complete sense and it made me think of technology in a totally different perspective. yea…i totally agree that texting is a waste of time

  11. Overheard: “I text message because if I call that person, I’ll have to engage in a conversation.”

  12. Nice post brother. I think if you substitute the word “luxury” for the word “technology”, the points you made hold up just as well. You will find this similar thread of thought in hundreds of years of literature and in the Qur’an and Sunnah itself; essentially what we’re saying is:“Whoever proposed to the world, then the world would not be satisfied until he gave up his Deen as dowry.” [Mâlik ibn Dînâr]The world is never enough, whether its persian rugs of centuries ago or the latest RAZR phone of today, luxuries will never satisfy the thirst of the soul.”Verily in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest!” [Surah ar-Ra’d, ayah 28]

  13. Thanks for your comment..I have never heard it before..so, I assumed no one else had..but I’m behind the times..I guess..good post..and texting is much easier than calling someone..I find that people respond to texts faster than phone calls. so, I guess that is my reasoning Salam

  14. sweet post. my english teacher was talking about this today. it’s so wierd how without a piece of technology we live perfectly, and happy and all that. and then when we get it, its like we can’t live without it. some stuff is useless though. like an xbox 360, or an ipod, and stuff like that.

  15. to all the sister’s, here is a smiley face

  16. Assalamualaikum,
    i wasnt planning on giving props today, cuz i havent read this yet…however, a comment by my dear sister, MuslimPearl, triggered me to comment back…..”and i can’t believe I beat A & E in giving you eprops.”
    MuslimPearl, i would have been the second one to give props…but i was waiting for you to go first, since you have been on my case, posting as anon everywhere and giving me naseeha, when you do the exact same thing….
    JazakAllah, btw, for the naseeha…
    bro kr, give me another day or so, and inshahAllah i will comment with something more related to your post….
    Allah Hafiz
    Wasalaam

  17. Hahahaha, the best line was “I sent that bit*h a smiley face, bit*hes loooove smiley faces.”

  18. Assalamualaikum…..
    oh man…i just got MsaPirates comment….dang..that is so lame of you, MP….
    that was hilarious….”typing with thumbs…”…
    well….i, personally, dont text at all….doesnt that add to another waste of time?
    People want the latest in technology, cuz they wanna seem cool…they dont care how muh money they spend on the stuff, they just want a higher postition in society and dont want anybody to look down on them…….pft…
    Allah Hafiz
    Wasalaaam

  19. I know what you mean…. I left my cell phone at home today, I was so at peace since I didn’t have to constantly pick up random calls and return text…

  20. How many text messages did people send you today after you wrote this post? 😛

  21. ^ Dude I cant wait till the lobby scene at ISNA, *sigh* ISNA oh ISNA where art thou?

  22. Anonymous permalink

    nigga you sent me a text just a few months ago about you being late to that one meeting — you knew that if you called me, I couldn’t tell you if any hot sisters were around… texting comes in handy in situations where you can’t talk. Otherwise, it’s just another method of dependence by people who are too shy or timid to talk in person or on the phone .. kinda like AIM .. .. major turn off.

  23. I like to clarify my statement, it should be… to all the shady sisters out there, here is a smiley face . you know who you are even if i don’t know anyone of you, the only thing i am sure of is that you loooove smiley faces. here have another, no need to thank me.

  24. ^ msa pirate, are you calling us b****es?
    anyway A & E, no I don’t go around everywhere as anon and give you naseeha. I only did that once. And why are you getting offended by it?

  25. Anonymous permalink

    you are forgetting the worse nigga technology of them all…. AIM…. oh man aim has ruined my life and i guarnatee all of yours…its definately nigga technology cause it has no need for a printer… and aww you said the nigga word…. from thsi day forth your banned for making speaches in my house…..

  26. hehe msa pirate better go into hiding lest he reveal himself in public and get publicly beaten down by muslim women and their handbags.

  27. kr..you are forgetting the chappal slaps…handbags and chappals….
    Muslim Pearl…i am not offended…if you didnt noticed, i thanked you for the naseeha….

  28. KR, your too loquacious. A lot of your post was summed up in a number of Ahadith where the Prophet (S) warned us about love of Dunya. Other parts of the post were summed up in other Ahadith where the Prophet (S) alluded to the fact that the son of Adam will always be greedy for this world. If he was to be given the mountain of Uhud in gold, then he would desire a 2nd mountain like it. On another note, your dead on about even with all the technology we have for communication, we’re a generation of people who are disconnected from each other. I consider a lot of my friends these days “virtual” friends because we only communicate via email, phone, or AIM. There’s never any quality personal contact anymore. And that’s just sad.So this weekend, when your by yourself and bored, don’t complain that you see me too much. You should be grateful that you get to spend time with someone like me.

  29. kr, I think they are far more busy cooking and stuffing their faces and gushing over ‘s (only the shady ones) and talking about unwanted hair removal… [finger over mouth, shhh…]*wisper* ‘its the mustaches’*wisper* [shaking head] that was so wrong, lol.

  30. Anonymous permalink

    great read.
    i agree w/ the text messaging business. completely whack these days. the worst is EID!!!! people fricking sending MASS ‘eid mubarak’ texts in the middle of the night and then i wake up cuz i use my celly as an alarm and have it set to ‘loud’ and then my sleep is ruined and then i end up missing FAJR!
    AND per ur last paragraph, technology is NOT a nuetral force if it is being used to increase productiveness or destructiveness or whatever.

  31. msa pirate, you yourself are shady. i don’t know what you are talking about…calling others shady.and stop ripping on girls. be a man and stop talking crap about others.

  32. MsaPirate…a man?!?! gasp…that isnt possible…
    he acts like a two year old kid…..

  33. A&E and MP: msa pirate is a little boy who enjoys being juvenile just to get a reaction from people (kinda like me… cept im funnier and subtler). he doesnt mean anything that he says, i can vouch for that. he’s just looking for attention cause he has no friends in real life. if you ignore him, that’ll irritate him even more =)

  34. hey! kr, you laughed at that joke when i told you in advance before posting it!are you still bitter about brokeback madrassa?

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