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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Community Vs. Technology

In your view, which piece of technology first pointed us toward the world we currently inhabit, i.e. a place where people frequently choose interaction with their devices vs. interaction with the people around them?

I nominate the Sony Walkman. When that device first became popular in the 80's, my initial reaction was feeling disconnected from all those people listening in public to their own private concerts. But, like most everyone, I adapted to the new normal. Still, as I began extolling those earlier assaultive boom boxes over the musical isolation of the Walkman to anyone who would tolerate my rant, I soon realized my default contrariness only partially explained my counter-intuitive defense of being pummeled by music that could rattle my teeth. The shift underway in the public sphere - in my mind personified by the Walkman-  was affecting my sense of community.      

How much more can technology separate us from each other? Although I suspect we're a long way from the end game - and that scares me a little - I'm also grateful many people close to me respect my views. I prefer music that is predominantly audible to all, conversations with those present, going to a movie theater to hear communal laughter or gasps or boos. The technology genie is never going back in the bottle. But I hope I continue to choose connecting with people.      

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