Wednesday, March 08, 2006

As I type this post, there is no telling where it will end up. Please bear with me. It seems that people are getting more and more introverted and non-personal due to technology. Back in the old days when we were growing up, you saw your friends at school, and rode bikes or played after school. There weren't cell phones yet, so people coordinated plans, and made significant efforts to be where they were supposed to be, on time.

Meetings meant a room full of people who were discussing agenda items, and making decisions face to face. Discussions would ensue, and you could read the person through their body language, their gesticulations, and whether their face was turning red. Now we have conference calls where dozens of people listen in, with their speaker phone on mute, reading gossip columns or doing email with barely one ear listening to the conversation. Communications within the office have degraded as well. People are less and less likely to actually walk 3 cubicles down to speak with a colleague, but will insist on sending a 2 sentence email. Most people shudder at the thought of picking up a phone and either cold calling someone about an issue that needs to be resolved. What is the anxiety about connecting with someone in person? Have the public and private sector bureaucrats created a phobia against vox humana?

To go further down the chain of communications, we use instant messenger, and text people on our cell phones. Maybe it is novel and fast, but can you hear or see the sarcasm in my voice when I say " that is a great looking dress"? People walk around with earbuds in their ears on the metro, walking down the street, and on busses. This ensures that people wont have to be approached by the diverse and interesting people of this town. It means you don't have to say hello to the nice man sweeping in front of the World Bank, or the homeless person on the corner. It also means that the beautiful red haired girl on the 80 bus you have been gawking at for the last month doesn't have a chance of getting your attention either. That's ok though. Because you can go to craigslist missed connections 35 times a day between IMs and see if see saw you.

People are closing themselves off. We all understand that meeting people is difficult. Meeting someone special is even harder, and unlikely to happen at a bar. But how can people find a chemistry in the online Walmart of dating that is or yahoo personals? People shop for a mate like they are looking for a duvet cover. Every flaw is magnified, the list of needs and wants are in stone. There is no compromise. "he looks like a great guy, but his favorite band is Rush." "that just wont work". We just seem to want everything to be automatic, exactly what we want, gift-wrapped and sent to our door Amazon style in 2-3 business days without any interaction, a single word spoken, and it must be perfect.Even though I am guilty of most of the things in this rant, they really piss me off. Pull the EFFING ipod out of your pocket, and actually get involved with life. Talk to people. That is all.


jaime said...

I'm with you on this 100%! It's one of the reasons I think community meetings are so important (even though I can't make it to half of the ones I'd like). They give you a chance to meet face-to-face and truly communicate with your neighbors. Even the listservs get out of control b/c people assume they aren't fully responsible for the foolish things they say on the interwebs. And yet here I am, commenting to your blog via the same faceless technology :)

healey said...

It's a interesting perspective on "risk" in our times. We are all much better at hiding than we need to be.
sad really.

PalacePool said...

While there have been people who deem those who hide behind their computers "dangerous" on certain listservs, i think that people like you that have valuable blogs on the hood are a good thing. the information shared on these websites and listservs should be used to improve the public discourse through public meetings, and face to face contact, not replace it.