Railway journeys and tabloid newspapers have not had the dire effects that were predicted. Even the most radically transformative technologies have not had the impact we might have expected. The dramatic electronification of everyday life that has taken place over the last few decades has not fundamentally altered the way we relate to each other. Love, jealousy, kindness, anxiety, hatred, ambition, bitterness, joy etc, still seem to have a remarkable family resemblance to the emotions people had in the 1930s. The low-grade bitchiness of office politics may be conducted more efficiently by email, but its essential character hasn’t changed. Teenagers communicating by mobile phones and texts and chat rooms and webcams still seem more like teenagers than nodes in an electronic network. I have to admit a little concern at what we might call the e-ttenuation of life, whereby people find it increasingly difficulty to be here now rather than dissipating themselves into an endless electronic elsewhere; but inner absence and wool-gathering is not entirely new, even if it is now electronically orchestrated. It just becomes more publicly visible. What’s more, there is something reassuring about electronic technology: because it is widely and cheaply available and because it is so smart, it allows us to be dumb, and so compresses the differences between people.
Alfred T. Palmer, “Electronics technician, Goodyear Aircraft Corp., Akron, Ohio” FSA/OWI, , LOC LC-USW36-194