An interesting morality is developing around the public use of mobile technology: There is an individual, madly typing into their small electronic device, seemingly aloof to everything around them. Are they disconnected from the real world? Are they missing out on human contact with their immediate reality? And here’s the emotional jugular: does their use of said digital device distance them from their family and loved ones? Does it rewire their relationship to the present?
I’m not really concerned with the answers to those questions at the moment. My question is this: why doesn’t the person sitting in a park reading a book get subjected to the same moralization as the guy checking his email? People have stood on sidewalks reading newspapers for decades…what’s the big deal with standing on the sidewalk with a digital device?
Yes, technology always drives changes in human behavior, but the “change” happening now is actually but a very small adaptation to the seismic invention that fundamentally changed human interaction in public spaces: the printing press. Unless you want to ban the reading of books in public, quit judging the teenagers sitting in the mall texting each other.