Love this article that came through my feed this morning – see this early extract:

People like to criticize current society. Not necessarily the current society relative to us, but the contemporary society of the time they live in. It’s just so cool to romanticize the past even if it makes us feel bad about the present. Past times were always better. And in this age of information and technology, in which the smartphone is so ubiquitous, it’s only obvious to blame them for some of society’s problems. Of course, it’s perfectly reasonable to stop and reflect on the use we give to technology and to criticize the bad behaviors associated. But I believe that accusing technology (and, again, especially smartphones) of ruining social interaction and even all kinds of experiences is, to say the least, quite wrong and misguided. Some people would even qualify that as pretentious, but I’ll refrain from that.

The article covers a great number of things that I have covered in various workshops, encouraging people to think about the fact that ultimately in using most digital/social technology we are dealing with human beings – just happens to be mediated by technology … but that culturally we prioritise face-to-face (which yes, are valuable – I love catching up with people) …. this sentence totally captured it:

… I’m just not able to comprehend why should we be forced to interact with those physically close to us instead of with the people that we really want to interact with.

I often use the photo featured in this blog post to encourage conversation … we have a rosy, nostalgic view of the past in which we think we all chatted away with those random strangers .. but no – we just buried ourselves in a different technology.

One of my favourite bits from my own book (described by the Financial Times as sensible) is:

Although in practice most children are continuing conversations with friends from their local area, it’s fascinating to see how often “online” communication is viewed as second-rate, as we see from Professor Livingstone’s comment:

“Even though … face-to-face communication can… be angry, negligent, resistant, deceitful and inflexible, somehow it remains the ideal against which mediated communication is judged as flawed.”

Yes, we need to look at our habits, but not dismiss technology out of hand.

Read full article.

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