Tuesday, June 23, 2009
The opposite of communication
All the hype about connectivity, convergence, new media and its supposed advantage for connecting people and creating new kinds of community contains a very high percentage of bullshit. True, in many ways new technologis are only tools, and can be used for "good" or for "bad", but in an increasingly crowded and urbanised world where we are always rubbing shoulders with many many people in often uncomfortable or unwanted proximity, the new technologies are probably usede more to escape and disconnect than the opposite. So people on the crowded bus and train listen to their mp3 players to stay in their private world, women chat on their cellphones to those who are far and away but part of their comfort zone, as opposed to connecting with people who might be physically present, men view pornography online as an easy outlet and as a refuge from the challenges of intimacy, children play online games endlessly and adictively, and so on. So I see a lot of the new technology being used to shut out, to create private fantasy spaces where people can retreat to from overwhelm - nothing wrong with that as part of a bigger rythm, but a little deadening, a little numbing, an ending of community rather than an emergence of it.