Ross Douthat watches the Google Glasses video a few hundred times, and finds a reflection of our society in it:
Ross Douthat via NYTimes.com
[…] the video also captures the sense of isolation that coexists with our technological mastery. The Man in the Google Glasses lives alone, in a drab, impersonal apartment. He meets a friend for coffee, but the video cuts away from this live interaction, leaping ahead to the moment when he snaps a photo of some “cool” graffiti and shares it online. He has a significant other, but she’s far enough away that when sunset arrives, he climbs up on a roof and shares it with her via video, while she grins from a window at the bottom of his field of vision.
He is, in other words, a characteristic 21st-century American, more electronically networked but more personally isolated than ever before. As the N.Y.U. sociologist Eric Klinenberg notes in “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone,” there are now more Americans living by themselves than there are Americans in intact nuclear-family households. Children are much more likely to grow up with only a single parent in the home; adults marry less and divorce relatively frequently; seniors are more likely to face old age alone. And friendship, too, seems to be attenuating: a 2006 Duke University study found that Americans reported having, on average, three people with whom they discussed important issues in 1985, but just two by the mid-2000s.
The question hanging over the future of American social life, then, is whether all the possibilities of virtual community — the connections forged by Facebook and Twitter; the back alleys of the Internet where fans of “A Dance to the Music of Time” or “Ren & Stimpy” can find one another; the hum of virtual conversation that’s available any hour of the day — can make up for the weakening of flesh-and-blood ties and the decline of traditional communal institutions.
Douthat wants us to go back to the Cleaver’s ’50s, and as a result looks as the present as a fallen era.
First of all, having more weak ties does not lessen the strength of strong ones, but Douthat and others would rather that we don’t connect with many, but would rather that we get back into the nuclear family and commute to a soul-sucking job everyday out in the suburbs than flit around modern day hipster New York.