We live in a technological universe in which we are always communicating. And yet we have sacrificed conversation for mere connection…
We’ve become accustomed to a new way of being “alone together.” Technology-enabled, we are able to be with one another, and also elsewhere, connected to wherever we want to be. We want to customize our lives. We want to move in and out of where we are because the thing we value most is control over where we focus our attention. We have gotten used to the idea of being in a tribe of one, loyal to our own party.
In the silence of connection, people are comforted by being in touch with a lot of people — carefully kept at bay. We can’t get enough of one another if we can use technology to keep one another at distances we can control: not too close, not too far, just right. I think of it as a Goldilocks effect.
Texting and e-mail and posting let us present the self we want to be. This means we can edit. And if we wish to, we can delete. Or retouch: the voice, the flesh, the face, the body. Not too much, not too little — just right.
She goes on to discuss teens who’d rather talk to a computer than to their parents about dating, and about people who realistically believe that psychiatry can be practiced by computers.
Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this. But it’s a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference.
I urge you to go read this piece in its entirety. Adding the attribution “via FaceBook via Susan Yarbrough via Roy Priest” may seem ironic, but as I write this I am wearing no headphones, there is no television or radio on in the background; I am sitting alone. After I his “Publish”, I may step away from the computer for a few minutes of more complete solitude, refreshing myself so that I may be more present for the others in my life with whom I will connect later in the day, either electronically or face to face.
It’s an important conversation.