I have wondered for a while about how technology connects us, or maybe just makes us seem connected. This article explores some of that.

Here are some parts that stood out to me.

A recent survey of 20,000 Americans found that almost half suffered from loneliness, which now qualifies as a chronic public health problem. Narcissism, a related condition, has been rising over 30 years of clinical studies and has become so widespread and so fundamental to all aspects of culture that the question is whether it can properly be identified as a pathology any longer.

I’d be interested to see a trend line for this. How many Americans were lonely in each decade and maybe what advances in technology seem to happen as things increase to where we are now.

The basic contradiction is as simple as it is desperate: the sharing of private experience has never been more widespread while empathy, the ability to recognize the meaning of another’s private experience, has never been more rare.

How often, instead of trying to empathize, do we just tell people why their experience is wrong and they should validate our experience instead.

The incipient political catastrophe in the United States can be summed up in a phrase: nobody believes the other’s pain is real. Nobody believes the other’s pain is meaningful; nobody recognizes anybody else’s pain. It is the central problem of internet-provoked outrage and loathing, the hyper-partisanship that turns on so many hinges. Nobody is willing to accept the other’s description of their feelings.

On what defines the human experience in the midst of computers.

When you live your life on computers, it is exactly what isn’t computable, what isn’t formulaic, what isn’t algorithmic, that is human.

If the idea of social networks, not tech but how people interact, interests you then I looked at a book called Connected that explores this topic in depth. Listen to it here, read it here.