~ 25 February 2005 ~

There’s No “We” in iWorld

Echoing Christine Rosen, Andrew Sullivan has a thoughtful article on the cult of the iPod. He wonders just how good for society is the isolation that comes with personal technology:

Walk through any airport in the United States these days and you will see person after person gliding through the social ether as if on autopilot. Get on a subway and you’re surrounded by a bunch of Stepford commuters staring into mid-space as if anaesthetised by technology. Don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t overhear, don’t observe. Just tune in and tune out.

It wouldn’t be so worrying if it weren’t part of something even bigger. Americans are beginning to narrow their lives.

You get your news from your favourite blogs, the ones that won’t challenge your view of the world. You tune into a satellite radio service that also aims directly at a small market — for new age fanatics, liberal talk or Christian rock. Television is all cable. Culture is all subculture. Your cell phones can receive e-mail feeds of your favourite blogger’s latest thoughts — seconds after he has posted them — get sports scores for your team or stock quotes of your portfolio.

Good thoughts—especially the part about how “culture is all subculture.” Each of us tends to get comfortable in our own niche, and tuning out the rest of the world becomes as much a matter of propriety as it is a matter of protecting our own interests.

Technology should aid our interaction with the greater culture rather than define it. I like technology, personal and otherwise, as much as the next geek, but I must be evermore wary of allowing technology to take center stage. Jesus warned of the salt losing its saltiness, and as a follower of Christ I need to take care to avoid the desalinized realms of the iWorld.

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4 Comments:

  1. Sal » 26 February 2005:

    Great post! Am fighting right now the concept of being in the “comfort zone” vs. doing God’s will. Obviously I want to do God’s will, but fighting my way out of the comfort zone is not an easy war!!! Technology does make it easier.

    But I’ll tell you one thing. Before the computer, I never paid much attention to current events – now that I hear voices that sound like mine, I am interested to listen. So, it’s not all bad.

  2. David Marcoe » 27 February 2005:

    The Net has become my primary means of collaborating, speaking out and interacting. I spend so much time at home that it serves as an ample social outlet.

  3. Jennifer » 28 February 2005:

    Try taking public transportation for close to an hour a day, five days a week, and you’d panic if you left your iPod at home, too. I’m to the point where I need music AND reading material, not one or the other. Start chatting on the Metro in the morning, and you’ll get plenty of nasty stares. I do see Sullivan’s larger point, however, and I think we’ve become too “customized” and isolated.

  4. Colby » 28 February 2005:

    I wondered how long it would take i-Jenn to add a relevant comment.

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