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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Technology and Disconnection

Monday, January 08, 2007

Here's a piece in which two of NPH's areas of interest, global media and civil society, converge. Jenny Uechi wrote it for Adbusters, and it asks some difficult questions about the proliferation of communication technology and the concomitant decrease in civic and social involvement among the populace. To avoid generalizing, Uechi draws upon a study that was done at Washington University and funded by major communications corporations 10 years ago. She summarizes the findings like this: "While most first-time users went online for social purposes, the studies showed a rapid decline in participation for social activities beyond the net and increases in depression and loneliness."

Further, she cites a Duke University study conducted last year posited that "the average American today only has two close confidants," and SwissCom Inc. "found that 80 percent of all cell phone conversations took place with only four people."

NPH thinks there is something qualitatively different about face-to-face interaction and that which is mediated through a a mechanical device (a computer or cell phone). And while many argue that the two forms of communication are just "different," we have to think that the former is better--much better--than the latter, and if the latter is allowed to phase out the former democracy is in big trouble (it may be in bigger trouble than we think right now).

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:30 PM


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