Somewhere else, part 134

Some writings worth reading

Emma Wisniewski felt exposed. The New York-based actress had moments where she had to open up in a way that made her feel particularly vulnerable. She had to talk on the phone. In front of people — her fellow actors and the audience. “I’ve done several plays now that required talking on landlines, and what always strikes me is the relatively public nature of it,” she says. The desire to communicate privately is one reason people have largely abandoned talking on the phone as a social medium. What was once a major indoor sport, taking up hours of many people’s days, is now not only more limited but may be going the way of mailed letters and express telegrams. “Now, calling on a phone is almost like a violation,” says Scott Campbell, a professor of telecommunications at the University of Michigan. “It’s very greedy for your social presence, and texting is not.” Wisniewski played a 16-year-old girl this spring in a play called Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976. As its title suggests, the play is set in America’s bicentennial year, nearly 40 years ago. One detail that made it a period piece was Wisniewski grabbing the phone off the kitchen wall, dragging the long cord into another room. For audience members of a certain age, it was a tableau instantly familiar, yet completely distant. Those of us in our 40s can remember fighting with our siblings to spend hours on those pea green and lemon yellow landline phones. As it happens, the play had its premiere in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis where back in 1944 Life magazine took a series of photos of a teenage girl talking on the phone as part of her “evening ritual.” She keeps a wary eye out for her mother, who can be seen occasionally looking on with disapproval. Hiding from Mom is one reason texting took off in the first place, says Danah Boyd, the author of It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens. Stretching the phone cord down the hall was no longer good enough to get away from hovering “helicopter” parents. “This prompted an entire generation to switch to text-based media, starting with instant messaging,” Boyd says. “Texting is seen as even more private, because it’s harder for Mom to look over your shoulder.” Texting became the norm for teens and young adults, but has been adopted by older folks as well. Boomers are still more apt to pick up the phone in professional contexts, but at work as well as home a ringing phone has come to be seen as an unwanted intrusion. [to be continued…]

et un peu de lecture en français,

Did I miss something?