Nick Carr: Will the Analog World Make a Comeback?
In Conversation with Andrew Keen on the Keen On
The coronavirus pandemic is dramatically disrupting not only our daily lives but society itself. This show features conversations with some of the world’s leading thinkers and writers about the deeper economic, political, and technological consequences of the pandemic. It’s our new daily podcast trying to make longterm sense out of the chaos of today’s global crisis.
On today’s episode, Nick Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, discusses whether Donald Trump is our first iPhone President and what the future of analog is after the pandemic.
From the episode:
Nick Carr: I do think it’s very interesting how we have this phenomenon of social distancing for a very good reason, and it arrives just at a time when we’ve already been doing social distancing. We’ve been getting very, very good at social distancing, you know, socializing without physical presence through our phones. And in many ways, that can seem like a kind of a narrowing of experience and a kind of a lessening of the richness of being part of society. I think that’s true.
On the other hand, in a time like this, a crisis like this, it’s actually very useful. What it underscores for us is that we’ve sort of had a reversion. If you think about the relationship of what we used to call the real world, you know, the physical world and the online world, it used to be that most of your time you spent in the physical world and then sometimes you sit down at your computer or whatever, you hook up to the Internet and you go online. I think one of the things that’s been underscored or highlighted by our experience with a pandemic is that relationship has switched, and now the real world, the physical world, is the place we kind of go to see now and then.
But really our main reality, I think, is the virtual world, the world we enter through our phones because we’re kind of constantly on them and doing all sorts of things through them. This experience is really emphasized. In fact, it’s kind of told to us, Oh, the physical world, that’s a dangerous place. You don’t spend a lot of time there. You don’t want to go out there. You’re going to get sick. It’s much, much better to just just stick with your phone and peer in that. So in a weird way, this has emphasized what I think is a fundamental shift and in the nature of what it means to be human.
Nicholas Carr is the author of The Shallows, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, The Glass Cage, and Utopia is Creepy. He has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Atlantic, and Wired. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife.
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