Jeff is lonely. He “did the only logical thing” and posts a flyer about it. And that’s news.
One narrative of technology is that it bridges gaps. It connects us via skype, facebook, dating services, and message boards. By calling Jeff we can express ourselves in ways we believe we can’t in person. However, this narrative is fiction.
It’s called “egocasting.” We see it best by the light of our iphone screens and our youtube channels, where we can focus entirely on the things we enjoy, none of the things we hate.
It also works with people. We used to lived in small communities and the people there were our only options. Today, it’s “so sorry, can’t talk with you, I’m listening to a podcast of people talking.” We no longer have to acknowledge the existence of others we share space with.
The end result is Jeff’s flyer and websites like Post Secret, where people “connect” through the anonymity of ones and zeroes. And we feel this is a good solution.
But the problem we solve is not loneliness, but the need to change and take a risk. We momentarily treat the symptom, when the cure is to say hello to the neighbor you’ve lived next to for years but never met. We choose to keep ourselves locked away. We don’t want to be lonely but we also don’t want to accept the reality of others.