Brother Smartness contends that cell phones killed the Williams party scene:

The advent of communication technology has drastically, and negatively, altered the manner in which we socially interact.[…]
Think, for a second, about how natural the phrase “running late” has become.  I can’t even front, because I myself have pulled this card on a number of occasions in the past.  The problem lies in trying to be at too many places at once; trying to accomplish more than possible in 24 hours.
Communicating on blackberries or texting on phones at dinner and/or clubs (a pet peeve of mine) make it impossible to live in the moment.  I’ve always contended that cell phones killed the party scene in college. Prior to cell phones every party had potential.  After cell phones, if a party was bad and that information became available through the wire, it was a straight wrap.  Mull that one over if you happened to be in the purple bubble circa 2002.
We risk losing, in the hustle and bustle of trying to be more productive, our sense of respect for one another, which I would argue is important in a world where human interaction is becoming increasingly unnecessary.
The game plan this summer and beyond is put the phone away and arrive on time, never fashionably late.  For the sake of maintaining the sanctity of humanity, I encourage you to do the same.

The advent of communication technology has drastically, and negatively, altered the manner in which we socially interact.[…]

Think, for a second, about how natural the phrase “running late” has become.  I can’t even front, because I myself have pulled this card on a number of occasions in the past.  The problem lies in trying to be at too many places at once; trying to accomplish more than possible in 24 hours.

Communicating on blackberries or texting on phones at dinner and/or clubs (a pet peeve of mine) make it impossible to live in the moment.  I’ve always contended that cell phones killed the party scene in college. Prior to cell phones every party had potential.  After cell phones, if a party was bad and that information became available through the wire, it was a straight wrap.  Mull that one over if you happened to be in the purple bubble circa 2002.

We risk losing, in the hustle and bustle of trying to be more productive, our sense of respect for one another, which I would argue is important in a world where human interaction is becoming increasingly unnecessary.

The game plan this summer and beyond is put the phone away and arrive on time, never fashionably late.  For the sake of maintaining the sanctity of humanity, I encourage you to do the same.

Can anyone else who was at Williams at the same time comment on this? By the time I got there in 2003, Verizon was quite well established on campus.

On the other hand, cell phones did bring some advantages when they came to Williams. As JG notes:

We graduated in 2001 not only in the rain, but during a thunderstorm. Graduation was paused partway through due to lightning and everyone went running for the science quad buildings during the 45-60 minute delay. Since it was a million years ago before everyone and their mother (and 5 year old) had a cell phone – and Williamstown had little to no reception – nobody could find their families.

On the other other hand, there are times when I would be fine with people not being able to find me. In the age of the cell phone, it is almost impossible to be unfindable. If I leave my phone off, or fail to pick up or return a call relatively quickly, I expect that the person trying to reach me is liable to get a little annoyed. For the sake of  maintaining amicable social relations, I feel obligated to keep the phone/email/messaging device on at all times. And of course, these devices are powerful and addictive in and of themselves, regardless of their social utility. As Stephen O’Grady writes in a love letter to his iPhone 3GS, “I seriously feel like I’m living in the future.”

Twitter makes the pressure to always-be-connected even worse, as Jennifer Mattern discovered:

As one friend observed, “If the people in my life need to know what is happening in my life every 20 seconds, there is something very wrong, either with them, or with me.”[…]

Facebook gives you a fighting chance. If you’re not the brightest bulb, not the sharpest tack, you can still hang out and find your posse. Addictive as it is (Facecrack, Crackbook), one can skip a daily dose and still pick up pretty much where one left off. Yes, Andrea is still in a relationship, heart heart. Yes, Gayle’s pictures from her trip are online now. No, you have not been Superpoked by Etienne, but Tim wants you to join his mob.

Brain. Can. Process. Yes.

Twitter is Facebook as played by Lindsay Lohan on Red Bull minus her daily Ritalin. It’s Racebook, run by people who are tethered to their Blackberrys and iPhones, pithy, clever people who always have a good line. I watch them in amazement. They make bathroom stops hilarious. They multitask with a vengeance. Sparks fly out of my computer when I log into Twitter. […]

I can be funny. I can’t be funny THAT FAST AND THAT REGULARLY. I have nothing to market. I have nothing to tweet. I am tweetless.

If, however, your brain can keep up with Twitter, you may want to follow us on Twitter and/or check out the many Eph Twitterers that we follow. You may find some people you recognize in there. Some of the more prolific Eph Twitterers include Stephen C. Rose ’58, Steve Case ’80, Kim Daboo ’88, and Ethan Zuckerman ’93 . There are many others.

And here are some more Williams-specific Twitter accounts, if you’re into that kind of thing:

PS – A previous post that is kinda sorta related, at least in my mind.

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