The Innovation of Loneliness

lonely sillouhette (200x200)

lonely sillouhette (200x200)A central problem of the modern world, according to many thinkers, is that we are lonely. And although you might think that technology is helping solve the problem, bridging the gaps between people and helping us connect, many say that it’s doing exactly the opposite, isolating us in our own little worlds, driving us further apart, and making us more and more lonely.

That’s the central thought of this excellent video, which suggests that technology helps us “connect” while leaving us more lonely in the process. As the video claims,

We’re collecting friends like stamps, not distinguishing quantity verses quality, and converting the deep meaning and intimacy of friendship with exchanging photos and chat conversations. By doing so, we’re sacrificing conversation for mere connection.

Regardless of whether you agree with the video’s central premise — that modern technology contributes to our growing isolation and loneliness — it’s worth watching. So check it out.


Disagreeing with Bill Watterson….Comic Style


Last week, I posted some critical comments about a comic strip depicting a speech Bill Watterson made on the importance of pursuing your dreams and refusing to get trapped by modern definitions of “success” (see “Success, Significance, and the Subtle Power of Culture.“) Apparently I wasn’t the only one who thought that comic conveyed some subtle messages worthy of critique. Here’s another–and somewhat snarkier and more jaded–response to the same comic strip. Disagreeing-with-Bill-Watterson-in-the-Style-of-Bill-Watterson

Success, Significance, and the Subtle Power of Culture


A comic strip that reproduces a 1990 speech by Bill Watterson, author of the rightfully popular Calvin and Hobbes cartoons, has been making the rounds over the last few days. I’ve seen it shared enthusiastically by Christians on several social media sites, which I can understand. On one level, it can be read as a clear critique of how our society defines “success” and the many ways we can get trapped by that vision, drawn into its soul-destroying way of life. The cartoon is worth reading for that warning alone. (Even though I’m going to critique the cartoon a bit later, please don’t let that keep you from reading it. It’s really worthwhile.)

life reflects values

But the cartoon carries subtler messages as well, ones that warrant more careful consideration.

I think the cartoon actually serves as an excellent example of how we receive messages from our culture every day, ideas that unconsciously shape how we view much of life. And, like many of the messages our culture sends, these can have  destructive consequences.

So I think it’s worth taking a few minutes and using this as a case study in analyzing subtle signals. The cartoon is fairly long, and it would be pretty distracting to post all of it before I make my comments. So instead I’m going to mix some excerpts in with my comments and post the entire cartoon below. If you haven’t read it yet–and you should–you may want to skip to the end and then (hopefully) come back for my reflections.

Let’s start with the good.

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