515: Digital Closeness

Do you think digital communication brings individuals closer or drives them apart?


Full episode script

Ah, a question that is often asked for college essays, in thinkpieces, and conversations with parents left and right. In an article for the Futures Center, built by Forum for the Future, the authors outline the problem by saying, quote:

Rapid change […] characterises life in the 21st century, which often gives communities little time to catch their breath and reflect on before another wave of innovation sweeps over them. The only thing one can say for certain is that many of the challenges ahead will also be solved within these communities – online and off, local and global, old and new. The World Economic Forum coined the phrase the ‘Fourth industrial Revolution’ to describe the period of technological change we’re living through. This revolution has the potential to underpin the creation of a new, sustainable economy – one that is equal, circular, low-carbon and focused on human well-being. Or it could have negative effects, destroying jobs, reducing privacy and driving over-consumption.

As May Wang wrote in Medium, drawing on her experience as a product designer:

Golden Krishna’s “The Best Interface is No Interface” predicted back in 2012 that technology would be and should be moving away from interfaces and screens, which are the very evil that many anti-technologists decry. Teenagers are often accused of being glued to their phones instead of making real conversation, but most of the time it’s because they’re texting each other. They’re just using their phone screens as a medium to connect with other people. The machine interface is just a medium, not an end goal. That’s why it’s so easily replaceable and vulnerable to elimination. When screens disappear, I believe that technology will help us find new ways to connect with each other.

One thing is for sure – technology has changed how we connect and interact. Technology has also institutionalized the stratification of communication that often happens thanks to the differences in access to technology.


Looking for something to listen to this weekend?

May I suggest the Launch podcast? It’s technically a completed podcast, since it’s a one-series show — but it’s still an awesome show to listen to if you’re an bibliophile. It follows the publishing of a book, from finding a publication house through the actual printing process. John August and Wondry put it together as an advertisement, yes, but it is so much more. It’s an intimate look at the love and care one author puts through the entire process of getting a book published, from idea to font and book tour and beyond.  

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.