“I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones” — Albert Einstein

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Sixth Toe

Does anyone else find it indicative of a paranoid society that so many people won't answer the phone anymore unless they know who's calling?

Is it the “I Spy” mentality of the internet, or the commercialization of our culture, or the privacy notices stuffed in our mailboxes that are to blame? None of this? All of this? Everything about us can be gathered and scrutinized, from the books we read to the votes we cast. My theory is that people are overcompensating for this loss of privacy by doing things like screening phone calls. Or they pretend to be absorbed in a cell phone conversation when they aren't so they don't have to make eye contact or engage in conversation or acknowledge what's going on around them.

We hunker down in front of our laptops and poke people. We are like a nation of hermits in a crowded auditorium, each with a blue tooth and a cell phone, in touch with the world but not the guy beside us. Will we eventually lose our ability to look a stranger in the eye and converse face-to-face? Will social skills be genetically weaned out of us by natural selection, like a useless sixth toe?

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