axel vogelsang on 15 Nov 2000 08:19:50 -0000

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

> 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
> maintained.

human existance is a social existence. we are not computers. we do not
transfer more or less important information. language and facial
expresssions (which we still do while using the phone) are like a dance.
there is always a meta layer in social behaviour which only wants to say:
hey i like you, or i dislike you. i trust you, i distrust you etc... that's
what it's all about. that's what human beings need to keep up their
existance as social creatures. therefore, all the things you describe like
people trying to provide the expected reaction happens in 'real life' as
well, not only on the mobile. because, as i said, communication is mainly
not about transferring information but about makeing social commitments and
reassuring your status in a social group. i would even say it is more about
transferring emotions than anything else. i don't believe, that people in
earlier 'better' days had more interesting talks than people today. the
measurement of a good communication is not how much information you
transfer. the question is, if you come to a social commitment with your
communication partner. if you can do it via mobile, why not?

actually i realise there is a lack of a lots of communication tools in a
mobile as facial expressions, body language, body contact, eyecontact,
smell... which sometimes makes it hard.
> 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
> isolated.


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