The Pleasures and Perils of the Online Life

| February 3, 2016

“I want you to talk to me!”

My wife’s voice shook me out of my Twitter-induced hypnosis at the dinner table. She had caught me again: immersed in some sort of conversation on my iPhone. In my mind, I was a welcome guest at a table of intellectual powerhouses, eagerly listening in to their latest discussion, planning how I would jump into this Very Important Conversation.

At least, that’s what I was imagining. But in reality, I wasn’t a participant in a faraway dialogue. I was a husband, sitting two feet away from the person I love most on this planet—and I wasn’t paying any attention. I have no memory of what I was looking at on my iPhone, but I do remember the annoyed look on Emily’s face, and the jealous affection in her voice as she tried to snap me back to life.

Social Media’s Dangerous Allure

I don’t think this kind of moment is unique to me. In fact, the temptation to let social media monopolize our waking thoughts isn’t so much a “bug” of the mobile information age as it may be a feature. That realization is precisely what led Alan Jacobs, professor of humanities at Baylor…

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