Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Isolation and Technology

The isolation and self containment that technology has inflicted on society at large. Ppl are more and more detached from thier surroundings and more linked into typing/talking into thier phones or scrolling through thier mp3 library.
I saw a woman walk into another pedestrian b/c she was so intent on Texting someone while perambulating. We are quite literally in our personal Pods.

I read this from Keimay, and I have to admit, at first it seems like technology is bearing its claws down on us once again. With cell phones, iPod, and other personal communcation devices, it seems like people are isolating themselves by paying attention to their devices, rather than their physical surroundings.

However, I really beg to differ on this point. Technology really HASN'T made you do anything. It has only given you the option to isolate yourself. And it's only certain technologies that do that, and some of them, before the iPod and cell phones came out.

As a citizen of a first world country, if not a semi-urbanite, we're constantly surrounded by people we don't know, and advertisers throwing sensory simulation on us to pursuade us to buy things. Until the latter half of the 90's, most people had no choice in what they were surrounded by (people or otherwise), other than to change their physical surroundings. Presence only had the physical context to it.

Come cell phones and IM on personal devices. Presence no longer has only a physical context. One can be connected to friends and family; even if they aren't in the physical vicinity. With these communcation personal devices, one can create a virtual vicinity of friends and family layered on top of the strangers in the physical vicinity. OF COURSE, nothing yet replaces face-to-face interaction, but sometimes one would rather talk to friends and family than with strangers next to you.

"But there are plenty of interesting people around! You just have to talk to them," one might argue. Sure, some of us are more privy to talking to strangers to a pleasing effect, but not all of us are by nature gregarious. Given the culture of certain areas of the country (east coast), it was hard to talk to strangers without iPods or cell phones in the first place. And again, the fact that you have a cell phones doesn't mean that you can't try talking to strangers either.

And finally, there are technologies that Keimay was born with, but I wonder if he's ever thought of it as isolating. Cars, for example. People use to socialize on their way to the corner market store, because they had to walk there. But with cars, you don't really need to talk to anyone you don't know. Television, one can argue, makes kids sit inside instead of playing outside with each other.

Honestly, I hate television while eating with people. It takes the socialization out of eating meals. But that's not to say that technology can't be made to create social contexts. Cars drive you to places where your friends are. Superbowl party with a 60" TV is where you share moments. Sharing iPod music between people. Trading junk and treasure on Craigslist. Meeting up with people of the same interests with And for cell phones, try

I venture to say that no matter what technologies comes to fruitition, people will be social animals for a long time to come. What context and the form of the social interaction might change, but people will always long for each other.

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