Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Observation Doesn't Quite Fit Either Hype...

So a few weeks ago I was walking from security to my gate in the Richmond, Virginia airport. As I did, I thought about how different the communication patterns in airports are now from ten years ago. Many more people talking on cell phones. Many more people (I was one of them) listening to iPods. People with laptops.

A critic of technology, I realized, might point out those things in the airport and say they were overly-virtualizing communication. That they were keeping from talking to each other face-to-face. Living in virtual worlds instead of the real world.

But then again, there were still lots of people reading books. Talking to people they were traveling with. But my favorite sight--one that made me smile--was two people who didn't look like they knew each other, yet were talking to each other. Why? It seemed--from a glance, at least--that the reason they had connected was because of the electrical outlets their laptops were plugged into.

It's true that communications media has changed the world to a certain degree. And it's probably unhealthily virtualized some of our relationships. But it's delightful to think that it's unexpectedly also forged face-to-face conversations between strangers.

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