"Using the Phone" = "Talking to Someone"

Eight months ago, I ranted about people who think that cell phones are picking at the threads holding society together.

Today, Wired magazine sort of says the same thing I did, but with less cussing and more logic.

What set Wired off (aside from belatedly reading my post, which of course all technology magazines do) was a New Yorker article about a seminar held at NYU. In short, the leader of the seminar is worried that:

“The peril in getting to know classmates on the computer is that incoming undergraduates may forget how to do so in real life.”

Apparently, a lot of people who never use technology in a social way are worried about the dangers of using technology in a social way. The leader of the seminar, for example, hasn’t used online social networks.

Since I already sort of covered this ground in January, I’ll leave it alone this time around. But the Wired writer did say something that I want to call out as true.

In short, she said that it may look as though she’s using her phone, but really she’s chatting with a friend. That is, the technology is a tool to do the same things humans have always done, but better.

I run across this all the time. For example, members of an older generation have noted that I’m on the computer a lot. That I love being on the computer.

But to me, that’s like saying that someone loves being in the car, because they use it to go to lunch, to the movies, or to a friend’s house.

I’m not on the computer as an end in itself. I’m sorting pictures of my family. I’m editing digital video and creating DVDs. I’m keeping in touch with friends. I’m writing a ton, and reading a ton. Keeping up with current events, and current thinking about those events.

Don’t get me wrong. I do love the latest toys even when I can’t find a way to use them. I spend a lot of brain power rationalizing why I should buy cool gear. But the vast majority of what I’m doing has nothing to do with circuitry or microchips. It’s not about technology, but about cool stuff I can do that I couldn’t do before.

Like publish rants to the world. Right now I’m “on the computer.” Ain’t technology grand?

4 Responses to "Using the Phone" = "Talking to Someone"

  1. Shane September 24, 2007 at 12:12 pm #

    My friend Sam just started college this fall in Boston. By using Facebook, he had already gotten to know some of his fellow freshmen, instead of being dropped blind into a completely new city and environment. I wish there had been something like that when I had started college. Technology is usually your friend!

  2. weeklyrob September 24, 2007 at 12:28 pm #

    But surely, when he meets those people in real life, he won’t know how to handle it. He’ll just grunt or something, then run back to his computer.

  3. Kevin September 25, 2007 at 1:11 pm #

    Well, before computers I would grunt and run back to the TV, so what’s really changed?

  4. Mom September 29, 2007 at 4:26 am #

    I love all the new gadgets that help to connect me to others. I am so grateful I can video chat and see people I love who are so far away.
    I had some over the counter meds that was some generic thing. I also had a cold and was sneezing, dripping, coughing- you get the picture. It was also 2:00 AM. I got on the computer, looked up my generic meds and found it was exactly what I needed. Perfect! Took it and was able to get to sleep.

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