Only the Rich Can Afford Silence

Jonathan Franzen has a nice bit on the internet and class in the New York Times Book Review. While the rich can find the peace and quiet necessary for creation and reflection in upscale sanctuaries like airport business lounges, the rest of us have to put up with flashing screens and advertisements. “Our digital technologies aren’t politically neutral,” writes Franzen. “The young person who cannot or will not be alone, converse with family, go out with friends, attend a lecture or perform a job without monitoring her smartphone is an emblem of our economy’s leechlike attachment to our very bodies.” His reflections come in a review of Sherry Turkle’s Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age.

As if to prove his point Toronto’s Central YMCA has just installed TVs on almost all of the treadmills and cross-trainers in the main conditioning room. It’s now almost impossible to do cardio without watching a screen or watching someone else watch a screen.

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