I promised as part of a post last week to pick up Michael Bugeja's book The Interpersonal Divide and offer an assessment of it.
Before I begin, an acknowledgment: When I was working on my Ph.D. at Ohio University, Dr. Bugeja was on the faculty there. (He has since moved on and is the dean of the journalism school at Iowa State.) I know him, and I like him. Does that make this review biased? I'll leave it for the reader to decide. Moreover, he has not communicated with me about my post from last week (see "Meanwhile at Iowa State...") nor has he asked me to review the book.
With all this as the background...
I finished Chapter 1 tonight, and I admit that to this point I fail to see why so many people are outraged by this text. The story about Bugeja that I included in last week's link indicated that he has received a steady stream of negative comments because of the book. If you are looking for a short summary of the book (to this point), I would say this: Are we aware of the over-reliance we place upon technology? Closely associated with that: Are we aware of what we are giving up because of our over-reliance upon technology?
I remain amazed at how easily we disconnect ourselves from the electricity of life (how's that for a mixed metaphor!). We plug into our iPods, Internet, televisions, MP3 players, and other lo- to hi-tech devices...and often listen or watch alone. We tune in to what we want, to what we perceive as important and tune out anything we deem unimportant. It seems narcissistic, if you think about it.
My colleagues across the country and I often bemoan that the current college crowd is too often so locked in to their technology universes that they lack too many skills needed for personal and professional growth. Are we correct? I think we are. What is the effect of this individual watching/listening and skill set erosion? I don't have an answer for that. But then I also must admit that at work I have my professional and personal e-mail accounts always at the ready. I can send a note to anyone at anytime, though, as Bugeja reminds his readers in Chapter 1, this ability to instantly communicate does not mean that communication has become instantaneous.
That and other fallacies, so defined by Bugeja, await you in that chapter.
On to Chapter 2...