Author William Deresiewicz approach to digital media is heavily interested in what digital media seems to be taking away from us. His theory is that digital media is bringing about an end to the importance of solitude and “alone-time” in our culture, something that he sees as extraordinarily important to humans as a whole. Today, people are so consumed with being known, being recognized and applauded, being applauded and admired, that we are constantly putting ourselves online, looking for approval from each other, to the point where “the greatest contemporary terror is anonymity.” Deresiewicz reminds us of the past societal importance of solitude; the “rare spirits” often went into solitude to clear their heads, to connect with God (whosoever that may be to them), and to think deeply. Solitude, he notes, also allows us to notice things that get lost in the shuffle of social interactions, and can be very transformative. Interestingly enough, the problem that both solitude and digital presence are trying to solve is the same one; it’s a fear of being unknown, just another face in the crowd, that pushed the people of yesterday to seek solitude and transformation, while it pushes us to be constantly known by our peers.
– What are humans like without solitude? Is it a good thing?
– Is there space for solitude in digital media?