Benjamin Geer on 14 Nov 2000 21:44:29 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> Cellphones and the Cancer of Cellspace

On Mon, Nov 13, 2000 at 07:15:52PM -0800, Michael H Goldhaber wrote:
> More than ever, my extremely idiosyncratic observations suggest, the
> young require being surrounded in reality or through the
> communication system, by their peers. thus the observed silliness of
> cell phone messages or chat rooms talk are no different from the
> silliness of the great majority of notes passed during school, and
> the like.  the prime purpose is contact, not the transfer of new
> information.

This is an example of something Adorno described in _Minima Moralia_:
people talk more and more, but they say less and less.  One must
constantly keep up the illusion that one is communicating, but without
expressing anything that might require the listener to make the
slightest effort in order to understand it.  Thus all ideas, and all
truly personal experiences, are taboo.  One can express only those
thoughts which fit familiar patterns.  As expression declines, so does
listening: if you know that the person speaking to you is merely going
to say the expected sorts of things, you don't need to pay attention.
You can just nod and smile.  This is why people laugh at jokes before
they hear the punch line.  They're ignoring the words; they just
listen to the tone of voice, and try to provide the expected reaction.
In the U.S., "friends" are considered to be those with whom
conversation takes on a friendly rhythm; a semblance of harmony is

The less we communicate, the more lonely we feel, and the more we rush
to embrace anything that resembles contact.  Thus, mobile phones serve
to provide the *appearance* of communication, for the participants as
well as for onlookers in the street.  But those who don't dare to
express themselves in person, or don't know how, will do no better
over a mobile phone.  The result is a vicious circle; the end result
will be a world in which people talk ceaselessly, but feel completely

Benjamin Geer

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