Public Experiences with Technology
I sit down at a local cafe to do some work. A young woman of about my age walks in and sits down nearby. I watch as she pulls out her smart phone. “Normal,” I think. Next, she pulls out a laptop. “Maybe she has a project to work on,” I think, optimistically. Wrong.
I look on in horror as she simultaneously sends Internet messages on her smart phone and surfs Facebook on her laptop. Perhaps it’s my own naivety, but is this really necessary? The smart phone is designed so that you don’t have to bring along your laptop computer to perform simple Internet functions. If you want to watch YouTube videos in public, wouldn’t it be much easier to do that on your smart phone?
Once again, I fail to understand this generational desire for unlimited and constant connectedness (connectedness here defined as being always “wired in”). I go to the cafe precisely because I want to get away from this computer and the addictive connectivity that it offers.
Across the cafe, an old man chats with the middle-aged manager of the coffee shop. It is a poignant reminder of the differences between our generations. On one side of the cafe are two people achieving the connectedness for which this public space was designed. There, on our side of the cafe sit three younger people, not communicating at all.