I can’t embed the original video, but I feel like the unplugged version captures my mood a little better today, anyway. Subdued but optimistic, I guess. Sluggish but determined. Guarded, but friendly. How’s my weird chest-wall muscle injury? Thank you for asking, Russ. I’m feeling a lot better today.
So there’s been a lot of hullabaloo lately about love and texting, hasn’t there? What do you think about the New York Magazine article? Is that actually something? Because it really just seems like a big, stupid nothing — I don’t see how you can extrapolate anything meaningful about Our Culture Today from those examples. As for David Brooks’s piece, well, he just sounds weird and off target in his op-ed — but then again, he is reliably wrong about everything, albeit in varying degrees. Much as Ta-Nehisi Coates is reliably on target.
So at the risk of boring you all (hi Mom, hi Ty) with a return to a subject I touched on a while ago, this has all got me thinking again about electronic text as a primary means of communication between people, and about how that changes the quality of our relationships. (By text, I’m not just referring to text messages on phones, but also to IM and email and social networking stuff.) I’ve heard it argued that it’s a distancing or protective device, and also that it facilitates intimacy. Then there’s that ongoing question about whether it’s making us more, or less, slutty. As you know, I’ve been in the “courtly love” camp, but then again, it’s not like I know a lot of people who are into hookups, so my view is probably skewed.
As you know, Russ, I love me some IM. My first experiences with it were way back in Olden Tymes, when I used some primitive version of the technology to stay in touch with my then-boyfriend, who was on a fellowship in another country. I remember it being sort of nice but also making me feel really sad, because it seemed like such a weird and artificial way to communicate. I bet, though, that I felt that way just because it was so new and so different from anything that I’d done before. If I were in the same circumstances now, I think I’d find it a lot less depressing.
I don’t think that it’s just romantic relationships that have been changed by a renewed emphasis on text, though. I definitely have friends with whom I “click” better through written language. Perhaps it’s because these media make introvert + introvert friendships easier to nurture…? There was some dumb thing that I heard on Dan Savage’s podcast recently about how the Pill might be Screwing Up Human Evolution because women on hormonal birth control don’t ovulate, and during the time when women are ovulating they prefer big Neanderthal guys, so maybe women are winding up with wimpier guys than they would otherwise and it’s going to destroy the gene pool or whatever. That argument seems really questionable to me for a lot of reasons, but I do wonder whether these text-based technologies are facilitating connections between people who might otherwise be too shy or nerdy to get things going on their own. So do you think that if I suggest that Facebook is altering the course of human evolution, I can get my dumb theory on the news, too?