The sociologist reading Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition is bound to squint at the page in puzzlement when Arendt gives her definition of society. So would, I think, most readers of the text. Arendt’s fondness for assigning new meanings to commonly used words is most perfectly demonstrated in that moment when she nonchalantly declares that “society” is a distinctly modern phenomenon: the intrusion of the private sphere into the public, resulting in a massive emptying of the value of human association.
A seismic shift in social behavior has occurred over the last decade that to the best of my knowledge was not forecasted by futurists.
While in the early 80s we wrote and read about telecommuting, the evolution of Arpanet, the workings and impact of smaller, less expensive, more mobile computers, the progeny of CB radio, the future of what was then known as videotex and teletext, and the commercial beginnings of satellite communication, no one forecast a radical change in Western social behavior. The change has been dramatic.
We have become the Interruptive Society – interrupting and interrupted.
Elevators have become phone booths. The preface to almost any public event, sacred or profane, is an announcement to shut down the beepers, pagers, and cell phones. …