August 25, 2008

Ben Stein on Connected Culture [7:32 am]

Everybody’s Business - Connected, Yes, but Hermetically Sealed

[T]he airplane lands. Cellphones and P.D.A.’s snap into action. Long rows of lights light up on tiny little screens. These are people we absolutely have to talk to. Voice messages pour in, telling of children who got speeding tickets, of margin calls, of jobs offered and lost. The bonds of obligation, like handcuffs, are clapped back onto our wrists, and we shuffle off to the servitude of our jobs and our mundane tasks. A circuit is completed: the passengers who were human beings a few moments earlier become part of an immense, all-engulfing machine of communication and control. Human flesh and spirit become plastic and electronic machinery.

What if we didn’t have cellphones or P.D.A.’s? We would still have duties and families and bosses, but they would not be at our heels, yipping at us constantly, barking at us to do this or that or worry about this or that. We would have some moat of time and space around ourselves. Not now.

[...] Will we ever throw away the chains that go “ping” in our pocket? Or have we irrevocably become machines ourselves?

Related: Textwalkers: Do They Need A Heads-Up? (pdf)

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