James Forsyth

Are texting and emailing making us incapable of normal human interaction?

Are texting and emailing making us incapable of normal human interaction?
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In his New Yorker blog, George Packer relays a thought-provoking conversation with his roofer:

“It turned out that cell phones had become a major headache in his work. Customers called him all the time, expecting him to hear every little complaint even while he was wrestling with a roof hatch. Meanwhile, they were more and more unreliable, not answering their phones, missing scheduled appointments. Even worse: they had no common sense any more. They called him about a leak in the first-floor ceiling—two stories below the roof—without bothering to check the second-floor radiator, which he discovered to be standing in a pool of water. It had all begun in the last couple of years, and it was driving him and every other contractor he knew crazy. They were all noticing the same thing.

“It’s the technology,” the roofer said. “They don’t know how to deal with a human being. They stand there with that text shrug”—he hunched his shoulders, bent his head down, moved from side to side, looking anywhere but at me—“and they go, ‘Ah, ah, um, um,’ and they just mumble. They can’t talk any more.” This inadequacy with physical space and direct interaction was an affliction of the educated, he said—“the more educated, the worse.”

I suspect the explanation might be something different, how time poor people feel they are. People under 40 or so who can afford it, tend to outsource everything they can from their taxes to household chores because they feel that they have so little free time that they will pay to preserve it. But I’d be fascinated to  hear what Coffee Housers think is responsible for this shift.

Hat Tip: Andrew Sullivan

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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