21. May, 2016

The New Isolates

This is about how modern man communicates. Cell phones are often described in positive terms: smart little devices that facilitate communication and help us remain socially connected. They might even contribute to diminish social isolation as a substitute for face-to-face contact. 
The other side of the coin is quite the opposite. The cellphone has ‘injected’ itself into public spaces. ‘ This has blurred the line between private and public and blustering phone conversations have now become a common part of the background noise during bus rides, grocery shopping excursions, picnics, sidewalk strolls, waits in airport terminals and many other public venues’. I could not agree more with these lines that I read a recent article. In Amsterdam many people (I think a majority might be younger women) can be seen plugged into their MP3 player (little cables hanging from their ears) or having lively conversations while strolling along the sidewalks, riding their bikes or even a motorbike and scooter. Seen from this point of view cell phones rather contribute to increase than to diminish social isolation. They are effective gadgets to avoid face-to-face contact and even eye contact with fellow citizens. I found the term ‘New Isolates’ a suitable way of characterizing this behavior pattern   I wonder how people would react if by some unexpected and sudden reason they would not be able to use their cellphones anymore.  Some might feel relieved, others (perhaps a majority) would  show symptoms comparable to the abrupt cessation of a substance dependence.