Carr, author of the Pulitzer finalist The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains (W.W. Norton, 2010), never fails to cut to the quick in the cultural commentary on his occasional "Rough Type" blog. As contemporary interpreter of the fetishism, solipsism, and pervasive absurdities that characterize the technocrats of Silicon Valley, Carr is among the best.
The following is from a very recent Rough Type post about Facebook and its new TV ad campaigns.
"...Every object, at least in our perception of it, carries its antithesis.
Behind the plenitude symbolized by the vase we sense an emptiness: the
wilted bouquet rotting in a landfill. And so it is with the tools of
communication. When we look at them we sense not only the possibility of
connection but also, as a shadow, the inevitability of loneliness. An
empty mailbox. A sheet of postage stamps. A telephone in its cradle. The
dial of a radio. The dark screen of a television in the corner of a
room. A cell phone plugged into an outlet and recharging, like a patient
in a hospital receiving a transfusion. The melancholy of communication
devices is rarely mentioned, but it has always haunted our homes.
"Home and Away are the poles of our being, each exerting a magnetic pull
on the psyche. We vibrate between them. Home is comforting but
constraining. Away is liberating but lonely. When we’re Home, we dream
of Away, and when we’re Away, we dream of Home. Communication tools have
always entailed a blurring of Home and Away. Newspaper, phonograph,
radio, and TV pulled a little of Away into Home, while the telephone,
and before it the mail, granted us a little Home when we were Away. Some
blurring is fine, but we don’t want too much of it. We don’t want the
two poles to become one pole, the magnetic forces to cancel each other
out. The vibration is what matters, what gives beauty to both Home and
Away. Facebook Home, in pretending to give us connection without the
shadow of loneliness, gives us nothing. It’s Nowheresville."