I Don’t Oppose Technology, Really!

After yesterday’s Luddite post about the evils of television, I wanted to followup so as not to lose my momentum with any emerging neo-Luddite readership.  (Would there be anything more ridiculous than a blog targeting the neo-Luddite readership? Probably.)

So, yesterday televisions, today telephones.  Gawker recently created a typology of text-messagers (huh, should that be “text-messengers”?). One of which is the following:

There are some people who love to text so much that the phone part of their cell phone has become completely obsolete. …they are scared of a wonderful and time-honored mode of communication. We’d much rather text most of the time too, but sometimes a call is necessary. The general rule should be if there are more than three questions or the problem can not be solved in three messages, then just pick up the phone and have a short conversation rather than waiting for the back and forth of texting. Also, if someone calls, don’t respond with a text unless the text says, “Can’t talk now. I’ll call later.” If one party thought the conversation was best had on the phone, just have it on the phone and save everyone a headache. After all, without phones there would be no texting, so do the old gods a favor and give them a sacrifice now and again.

Rick Webb responds:

I am one of those people. But let me explain something to you. The telephone was an aberation in human development. It was a 70 year or so period where for some reason humans decided it was socially acceptable to ring a loud bell in someone else’s life and they were expected to come running, like dogs. This was the equivalent of thinking it was okay to walk into someone’s living room and start shouting. it was never okay. It’s less okay now. Telephone calls are rude. They are interruptive. Technology has solved this brief aberration in human behavior. We have a thing now called THE TEXT MESSAGE. It is magical, non-intrusive, optional, and, just like human speech originally was meant to be, is turn based and two way. You talk. I talk next. Then you talk. And we do it when it’s convenient for both of us.

They’ve both got some fair points. (Does this break the rules of blogging? Often it seems like you have to be like a potential Skull and Bones member: “Accept or Reject‽”)

The most important point here, I believe, is in the second excerpt. It’s something often forgotten when arguing about politics or society or culture. As much as we talk about “the new normal”, the last 100 years is a flash in the pan in the scope of human history. You can’t really make conclusive judgments about human institution or social convention in such a small time frame, given how hard it is to really change human nature. Less than 100 years after the coast-to-coast telephone call, we can’t really say a lot about how we’ll choose to use this technology over the long term.

(via First Things)

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