November 15, 2019

Our Lonely, Boring Technological Dystopia

“Most people assume social media is making us more narcissistic, more compulsive, and lonelier. But is that really true?

A new book titled Bored Lonely Angry Stupid tries to answer this question by looking at the past. The authors examined diaries, letters, and memoirs of a broad cross-section of Americans from the 19th and 20th centuries, trying to capture their inner lives as closely as possible. Then they conducted interviews with modern-day Americans in order to understand how their emotions are being transformed by technological change.

The idea was to see how our views of boredom, loneliness, selfhood, and community have evolved over time, and how technologies have sparked those evolutions. And what they found was striking: We don’t merely develop new devices for expressing our emotions — our devices actually alter what emotions we express.

I reached out to one of the book’s authors, Susan J. Matt, to find out more. Matt is a cultural historian at Weber State University.”

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