The Miscellany of Stewart McCoy


“Since we live in an economy of notoriety, celebrity, and publicity, commercial pressures focus technological innovation on convincing humans to be more and more public. Thus: private friendship, real friendship, born of intimacy that cannot be performed, friendship that entails taboos and violates cultural norms, is pushed further into the margins of social experience.”

Gossip, Negativity, Friendship by Mills Baker

“It is sometimes a battle even to be attentive to another person or to take note of them at all. This is not a recent phenomenon. It is not caused by the Internet, social media, or mobile phones just as it was not caused by the Industrial Revolution, telephones, or books. It is the human condition. It is much easier to pay attention to our own needs and desires. We know them more intimately; they are immediately before us. No effort of the will is involved. Being attentive to another person, however, does require an act of the will. It does not come naturally. It involves deliberate effort and sometimes the setting aside of our own desires. It may even be a kind of sacrifice to give our attention to another and to be kind an act of heroism.”

It’s Not the Smartphone, It’s You and It’s Me by Michael Sacasas 

Shooting off an e-mail is easier, still, because one can hide behind the absence of vocal inflection, and of course there’s no chance of accidentally catching Frank. And texting is even easier, as the expectation for articulateness is further reduced, and another shell is offered to hide in. Each step “forward” has made it easier, just a little, to avoid the emotional work of being present, to convey information rather than humanity.

The problem with accepting — with preferring — diminished substitutes is that over time, we, too, become diminished substitutes. People who become used to saying little become used to feeling little.

“…the author falsely assumes it’s impossible that some people might be legitimately passionate about kitsch…”

– Kevin Montgomery, In Defense of Irony

“While we have gained some skill sets (multitasking, technological savvy), other skills have suffered: the art of conversation, the art of looking at people, the art of being seen, the art of being present. Our conduct is no longer governed by subtlety, finesse, grace and attention, all qualities more esteemed in earlier decades. Inwardness and narcissism now hold sway.”

– Christy Wampole, How to Live Without Irony