i have frequently written in this space (for example, here and here and here just to name a few…in case you might be interested) about the looming peril of technology and social media. some of my closest friends tell me i am a paranoid old man.
i’ve just started a book by anthropologist, clinical psychologist, and professor of the social studies of science at m.i.t., sherry turkle called “alone together.” i wish i could accurately describe my feelings about it thus far. i am enthusiastic and terrified simultaneously. just reading the introduction was disturbing. let me share a quote:
If at the outset I was troubled about life with simulation, in the course of researching this book, my concerns have grown. These days, insecure in our relationships and anxious about intimacy, we look to technology for ways to be in relationships and protect ourselves from them at the same time.
Only a decade ago, I would have been mystified that fifteen-year olds in my urban neighborhood of parks and shopping malls, of front stoops and coffee shops, would feel the need to send and receive close to six thousand messages a month via portable digital devices or that best friends would assume that when they visited, it would usually be on the virtual real estate of Facebook. It might have seemed intrusive, if not illegal, that my mobile phone would tell me the location of all my acquaintances within a ten-mile radius. But these days we are accustomed to all this. Life in the media bubble has come to feel natural. So has the end of public etiquette: on the street, we speak into invisible microphones on our mobile phones and appear to be talking to ourselves. We share intimacies with the air as though unconcerned about who can hear us or the details of our physical surroundings.
Technology reshapes the landscape of our emotional lives, but is it offering us the lives we want to lead? Are we comfortable with virtual environments that propose themselves not as places for recreation but as new worlds to live in? What do we have, now that we have what we say we want–now that we have what technology makes easy?
rest assured, dear readers, that i will keep you abreast of what i discover. i sincerely hope we will soon be enjoying a probing-yet-civil conversation on this subject. in the meantime, here is a little technological levity that i found on twitter…
New app idea: Everyone gets a unique set of numbers. Type those numbers into the app and you can speak to each other! (Conan O’Brien)
How did anyone survive watching little league in the age before smartphones and digital distraction? (Tim Challies)