Alone Together: All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers

February 25, 2011 — 5 Comments

2001: Sir Arthur C Clarke’s Dark Prophecy

“I was surprised to get your call. No one calls me anymore. I get 200 emails in 24 hours. I come to an office and respond to emails all day,” said the high energy executive. He looked out the window  from his office overlooking Madison Avenue with ennui.

I still call. But few call me back. They respond with a text or an email. I consider  it rude to not return a call with a call. And I am not a luddite. I am not.

But soon, without talking, all my friends will become strangers, as Larry McMurtry said so many years ago.

We have all seen the 2010 statistics. Text has overcome voice in frequency and volume.

In her brilliant book, Alone Together, Sherry Turkel, Founder and Director  of MIT’s Technology and Self, illumes the central issue: texting is less painful than a call. A voice transaction might suggest surprise, or worse, awkwardness. It also helps that every time you get a text, the brain gives you a hit of serotonin which in turn releases dopamine.

Actor and director Stanley Tucci,  a friend since we did Big Night in 1996,  told me that great acting was not  about delivering the line but  filling in the pauses between the lines.

“That’s where the mystery of life resides,” Tucci said, “in the silences and pauses.”  Without verbal interplay, how can we go to the deeper levels in a relationship which silence provides?

We are all so very busy with our busy lives we don’t realize that technology is deconstructing us.

I picked up TIME magazine yesterday and saw that man is on target to merge with the machine by 2045.

Sir Arthur C Clarke, the  brilliant author of 2001,  once said that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable  from magic”.

I love technology. I suffer from gadget lust like most  males.  But not at the cost of awkwardness and studied reflection, qualities that make us human.

Winston Churchill said  that man shaped the buildings, and then the buildings shaped us. So it is with technology. Technology is reshaping us…rather like….er… “magic”.

Don’t call me a Luddite, but call me old-fashioned. May the other voice at the end of the line always be capable of just a little bit….uh….of…a tad of awkwardness.

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5 responses to Alone Together: All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers

  1. Binary Code has no pauses….:)


  2. thats why “eventually” THE MACHINE WILL STOP 😉 1909 EM FORSTER
    a novella that needs a transmedia rebirth.

  3. Face to face conversations are where it’s at David. I’m available 24/7 for creative, thoughtful, providential conversation that can make the world a better place.

    I’m serious.


  4. Greetings. I just stumbled on your blog, David, and I agree with your thoughts.

    Years ago, there were letters, written correspondence. They were time-consuming to create and deliver, so they had to be thoughtful and literate. Compare them to the most common communications today: offhanded emails, meaningless texts, endless Facebook updates. If it’s the thought that counts, these babies don’t make it to 10.

    These technologies fill a vital space, but I fear we have turned them into excuses to ignore one another. Nothing (not even a well thought out letter) will take the place of face-to-face interaction. You would not remember it, David, but I was fortunate enough to have one with you a few years ago. A Tweet would not have been the same. 🙂 I pray that you are well. God bless…

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