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Anorak | In age of distraction the SMS weighs heavier than the book

In age of distraction the SMS weighs heavier than the book

by | 3rd, December 2016

Are you scared and unarmed by mass communication? Jonathan Safran Foer is worried by his “always on” digital environment.  He says “technology is diminishing us”. Foer says inattentiveness is morally wrong. ‘Simone Weil wrote that “attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity’,” says Foer. “By this definition, our relationships to the world, and to one another, and to ourselves, are becoming increasingly miserly.”

As with all adult fears it’s not long before children are mentioned: “Everyone wants his parent’s, or friend’s, or partner’s undivided attention even if many of us, especially children, are getting used to far less.”

Paying attention in the modern age is so very hard, argues Foer. Our attentiveness is linked to the value we put on things. Our phones, the argument goes, have reduced human interaction to the point of meaningless. The technology has determined us.

He laments: ‘Each step “forward” has made it easier just a little to avoid the emotional work of being present, to convey information rather than humanity.”

But isn’t technology used to seek attention? Look at how many tweets are narcissistic, directed to show off the writer’s virtue on the back of whatever outrage can be found in the dust. The message is not about you; it’s about me.

We’ve been here before, of course.

Was Conrad Gessner right to warn about the “confusing and harmful” presence of too much information? He wrote that about the printing press in 1565.

A 1883 article in a New York medical journal said reading and schooling would “exhaust the children’s brains and nervous systems with complex and multiple studies, and ruin their bodies by protracted imprisonment”. Is education bad?

Before both of them Socrates bewailed writing: “This discovery of yours will create forgetfulness in the learners’ souls, because they will not use their memories; they will trust

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Posted: 3rd, December 2016 | In: Technology Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink