Challenging a Techno-Social Myth

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I was initially going to call this write up Challenging Einstein which would have been way more eye catching of a title.

However, Einstein never actually said the quote listed in the photo below so I would have been propagating an incorrect quote just for the sake of attracting readers if I had done so.

Since you’re currently reading this, obviously my boring title still worked anyway.

Einstein

Here’s the thing, that quote was probably done by some angry old Psychologist who got bumped into on the sidewalk by some teenager doing what those girls in the picture are doing.

So he took Einstein’s actual quote, which is:

“It has become appallingly clear that our technology has surpassed our humanity. I hope that someday, our humanity might yet surpass our technology”

Then he bent the real quote to fit his own frustrations, shook his old Motorola brick phone in the air angrily, and created a new viral urban myth using Einstein to give his antiquated way of thinking some sense of credence.

I’m neither going to agree, nor disagree with Einstein’s actual quote, but I am going to argue that misquote shown in the photo. (Except for the part about idiots. That part is solid fact)

Take this photo from November 22, 1963 which has also been used in a viral campaign to argue that misquote as a partial example of my thoughts.

newspapers

The argument, as shown in the first photo, is that as we advance we are spending all of our time glued to our devices and we are not being ‘social’. We are supposedly not interacting with each other anymore but only with our technology.

I disagree with that way of thinking.

I think it’s more a matter of challenging the traditional definition of “human interaction”.
I interact constantly. I guarantee every one of those girls in the photo above are chatting, texting, IM’ing, etc. with friends. They are possibly being social and interacting with people they would have never had the remotest chance of ever communicating with 50 years ago.

I have probably 100+ friends from online communities. Quite a few I’ve met in person at Microsoft’s TechEd conference but they’re still only friends that I’ll only ever meet in person when I attend that conference.

I have many more in other parts of the world that I have never, likely will never, meet in person who would actually let me sleep on their couch should I somehow find myself in their area. In every definition of the word, these people are friends.

I have many more online people that I regularly converse with who at least qualify as regular acquaintances.

In “real life”, I might have 2, maybe 3 friends.

Back in 1963 our flow of news and information was strictly one way. Those folks shown in that old photo likely never spoke a single word with each other during that commute. They also had no technological means to ‘speak’ with anyone via mobile communications. The only means of getting information they had was either by newspaper, television, or radio. One way. No “interaction” what so ever.

If anything, technology has made humanity more interactive.

I’ve chatted on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+, with  individuals who, by all accounts, are famous within their industry and I have even met in person and shared beers together. There’s no way I’d ever get a chance to meet these people in person without having talked on social media first.

So what exactly is considered “human interaction” today?

Perhaps we should be updating our way of thinking to match our advances in culture and technology.

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