Contact-free contact

Even those committed to avoiding contact with the human race tend to capitulate over the holiday season and feel the need to hear a familiar voice, exchange a word or two, share a wish or a smile. So we can interpret the mass of text messages sent by mobile telephone users (of which there were 30 million on New Year’s Day – double last year’s number) as evidence of the need for communication that intensifies on ostensibly joyful days. If we estimate the number of mobile phone owners in Greece at around 5 million (including foreigners and children – who acquire their new toys from as early as 10 years old), this works out to be about six messages per person. The figure is quite reasonable, as is the desire to send best wishes to loved ones, so there is probably no reason for a major moral panic and for preaching of the type we have already seen. But the amount of messages cannot simply be explained by a need for communication. The impact of current trends and the pressure to mimic also boost this form of communication which is imperfect, one-sided, incomplete – unlike a good conversation. For the five text messages sent because the receiver’s mobile phone is busy, another five are sent to fulfill a «social obligation» without running the risk of actually speaking to the recipient of one’s good wishes. In which case, we are not communicating, but playing the communication game…

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