On the surface, this is another book about how smartphones disrupt conversation. It draws from social science studies and a raft of interviews to confirm what we already knew through experience. But the book is important because it captures the other 90 percent of the iceberg: how smartphones preempt solitude and the essential connection between solitude and conversation.
In Technopoly, Neil Postman says that overly technological cultures, “driven by the impulse to invent, have as their aim a grand reductionism in which human life must find its meaning in machinery and technique.”
The more I am hit by the decadence and vulgarity of American culture, the more I return to the thought of Pitirim A. Sorokin (1889-1968). Now out of favor in spite of his enduring scholarship and his central role in the development of academic sociology, Sorokin was already beginning to fade when I entered graduate school in the late-1950s. His stout anti-communism, critique of loosening sexual mores, and cultural conservatism ran squarely against the academic trends of the time. And it didn’t help that his life story gave him far more credibility than his colleagues to discuss the great ideological debates of the Cold War. Continue Reading »
In an important new book, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960–2010, Charles Murray observes that America has become increasingly divided. Once largely united by a common middle-class culture, we’re now trending in different directions, one up and toward a new elite class, the other . . . . Continue Reading »