How technology can mess up friendships

…communications technology may carry with it the danger of exacerbating neediness; it can potentially bring out the borderline personality in all of us–if
a friend could have called, then why didn’t he? Why doesn’t he pick up
when I call his cell phone? If she saw I was online, then why didn’t
she IM me? Why is it taking her so long to reply to my last IM? Is she
IMing with someone else right now? Is that person more important than
me? If I have so much access to everyone, then why do I feel ignored?

I admit, it takes special breed of paranoia to go down that avenue… In the meantime, while I mull that over,
I’ll keep paying my broadband bill.

That is Rob Horning, who more generally fears the effects of quantification on our personal lives.  There is much to be said for mystery.  In principal-agent lingo, a threshold standard may lead to more cooperation than a sliding scale for judging effort.  The extra noise involved in the sliding scale can increase signal extraction problems (also known as misunderstandings) and induce unneeded retaliations and manipulative strategies.

Here is a related post by Rob.  Here is Rob on how "The Long Tail" may destroy the cultural underground.  Thanks to Robin Hanson for the pointer to Rob’s writings.

Addendum: Sangho Yoon directs me to this article on how cellphones are changing social life; my favorite quotation from the article is the woman who says: "There are real people in there."


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