There’s a great article on the New York Times website called The Flight From Conversation by Professor Sherry Turkle (apologies to Sherry if I’ve used the incorrect title there). You should read it, it’s quite excellent and well thought out.
I completely agree with everything that is said however I’m actually more than okay with my self imposed distance with the world.
A while back there was another article written here in Brisbane which supports Turkle and wrote about how no one talks to each other on the train any more and what a sad state of affairs this is. To which I completely disagreed, the worst way to start or finish my day is realising that I’ve left my headphones at home or in the office and may be forced to listen to the inane garbage that people need to go on with (even on the quiet carriage).
See I like the control that my iPhone gives me over my interaction with the world. I pop my headphones on and a sphere of privacy and self surrounds me. There have been train trips where I’ve sat right in front of someone I work with and not noticed them until I get up to get off. Sometimes I don’t even listen to anything, I have noise cancelling headphones and they are great. I use my journey to prepare myself for dealing with work or shifting out of work mode back into the home version.
I love the fact that if it’s one o’clock at night and I feel like a chat I can jump on Twitter and find someone to talk movies with. But with that situation I’m not asking someone to put aside what they are doing or how they are feeling to interact with me. We’re both choosing independently to be online and that is great and most importantly for me it’s comfortable, it is disconnected, but I don’t see that as a totally bad thing.
I know people do, I’m sure parents worry about their kids. I know there are those who can’t imagine what it’s like to want to be completely arm’s length with the world. I’m sure it’s a mental condition or concern but for me it’s a preferred state.
It does actually make me wonder and consider how much I share online, I’m generally fairly open online but my online personality is vastly different from who I am offline. We all present different personalities depending on the environment and audience, online is no different. I’m not living a lie I’m just reacting to my environment but then maybe I should keep my private and personal stuff to myself to minimise connectivity and avoid confusion.
Look, I don’t think there’s a right or wrong in this discussion, there’s just personal preference and it’s interesting to consider is all I’m saying. It is also a great excuse to share that video
I’m certainly not recommending the digital hermit way of life for everyone and sure maybe society is damaged by this but I tell you what you can have my iPhone headphones when you pry them from my cold dead hands.