Farman, “The Myth of the Disconnected Life”

It’s really lovely to read something that isn’t griping about damn-kids-these-days, always-plugged-in. Farman lays out the claims of those who argue we are disconnected from experience and others because of the pervasiveness of technology, then brilliantly tells the history of this crisis (reminds me of the regularly-occurring crises of writing!), going all the way back to the ways that writing is going to disconnect us from face-to-face communication, then he presents his counter argument: that, while, yes, it is good to step away from anything that we are becoming obsessed with/addicted to, technology may actually engage us more with our surroundings in many ways, in that it can connect us to stories and people with whom we would have no interaction in our lives otherwise.

“Yet, by conflating mobile media with a lack of meaningful connection and a distracted mind, they do a disservice to the wide range of ways we use our devices, many of which develop deep and meaningful relationships to the spaces we move through and the people we connect with.”

What I might critique in this article is that Farman is too apologetic, he justifies technology-use by saying “no, no, we’re not disconnected, we’re more connected!” But, in place of that, I might argue, “we’re no more disconnected than we’ve been in the past,” which also seems to follow more logically from his historical contextualization of the “disconnectedness” of technology. It’s not even that technology connects us more, it’s that it’s just another step, more progress, against which, there will always be critics who think, old ways were better.

“Old ways were bettah”

We’re not any less disconnected than our parents, or their parents, or their parents; connection via technology is not any less “real” or “authentic” than connection via other means of communication. And, after all, we can’t ever really connect with another anyway, right? (That’s what the modernists taught me at least.) So, Jason, you don’t need to apologize for technology, or justify it, or glorify it. We can celebrate it for what it is: our way of life.

Jason Farman, “The Myth of the Disconnected Life.” The Atlantic. Feb 7, 2012.

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