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Verizon has released a second, in a new series of commercials that has me wondering and a bit repulsed. These commercials are centered around "older" white males who appear very successful and appear very alone. So who are they having their intimate relationships with? Their phone.

In the first commercial, the guy is sitting in this swank apartment, going over his daily planner with his phone. The voice of his phone is female and somewhat younger than he is. The plot then takes on a new dimension, as the phone becomes more than a phone. I imagine that is what Verizon is shooting for here, but the idea that the phone has the capability to be more than a tool, possibly the only "thing" this guy can have an intimate relationship with, begins to emerge. Then the guy asks the phone to tell him a joke....

"Two I phones walk into a bar.... I forget the rest" and then they laugh together. First, it's a terrible joke, but the guy is so desperate, he finds it funny. From a psychological standpoint, this is deeply disturbing to me. Is this how disconnected with humanity successful (or non-successful) people are getting? Where is Technology taking society?

The second commercial has a guy riding in a taxi, interacting with his phone. Now, many people use their "personal communication device" to problem solve, research things, buy things, and so on. But when the phone begins taking on a personality and the sense of intimacy begins to develop, what does that say about one's connection to their environment? Are they not capable with having relationships with other people? It certainly seems so. It also seems sad. Here he is having a back and forth conversation, like a boss talking to his administrative assistant and telling her/it to change an appointment and she/it comes back and tells him it's already done.

What does this say about society and where we're going? It says to me that some people are so lonely and unable to develop intimate relationships, they're doing it with their "personal communication device". All the chat rooms appear to have people at the other end, but often "faceless" people. The incredible amount of people "gaming" and all the other computer related interactions. That's not counting how many people rely on TV to occupy their time.

What has happened to person to person, person to nature relationships? In my mind, this commercial series is taking us the wrong way on the path to inner connections. And it scares me.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The guy in the "taxi" was Scorcese. Illustrating (6+ / 0-)

    how the phone helps plan his day.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:21:44 AM PDT

    •  I suppose the Zooey Deschanel one (0+ / 0-)

      doesn't fit the "older desperate while males wanting to talk to their Lady voice" meme here.

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:35:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Fits with the "your phone is your friend" meme (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xanthippe2

        It's not just lonely old men (who said "white?") that have intimate relationships with their phones, quirky girls do too. So that's not real the problem with this diary. This is:

        What happened to "person to person" or "person to nature" relationships when BOOKS were invented? Did you know that lonely people started having relationships with their books and the characters in them instead of meeting real, live humans?

        What happened to relationships with the advent of radio? People sat around listening to a disembodied voice rather than having conversations with the real live people in the very same room with them!

        Did you hear about how, once television was invented, people stopped actually raising their children and delegated that responsibility to the idiot box? Why, entire generations have been raised by electronic surrogates!

        Did you hear the one about how technology killed our humanity? Oh, you have heard that one before, have you? Yeah, it is a bit of a well worn tale, isn't it?

        •  Worn indeed (0+ / 0-)

          Also, the post office and all their fancy mail-carrying gizmos somehow convinced people to just write down the most intimate and personal thoughts and questions and then have perfect strangers carry them miles and miles away while they just sat around waiting to READ any kind of answer or response rather then just talking to people face to face.

          (oh, and

          These commercials are centered around "older" white males who appear very successful and appear very alone.
          is the second sentence in the diary)

          Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

          by Wisper on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 11:01:45 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Jeez, I missed that (0+ / 0-)

            Sure, let's throw race into this mix as well, why not? Herp derp.

            Hilariously enough, we do have records from the time of the freaking invention of writing, and YES, people made those exact criticisms. Of WRITING.

            And some of the first things actually written down were "Kids these days!" diatribes. Some things never change.

  •  People gotta' wake up. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    shaharazade, G2geek, entrelac

    Participation in the Consumer Culture, and its "Technology," is optional.
    You don't have to do what the TeeVee tells you to.

    The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

    by Azazello on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:26:42 AM PDT

    •  I killed my TV (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Azazello, G2geek

      now I just let the tubes tell me what to do. Good thing about that is I can always talk back to the Internet. I don't have a freaking smart phone mines dumb. Gadgets that make one feel important and tell you what to do seem to add a layer, a filter to life that dehumanizes, cheapens the art of living, separates us from the real world were living in.

      Devices seem to remove us from consequences, of our choices and our creativity big and small   Drones come to mind, or Bill Gates dream house where the refrigerator tell you your out of milk. Guess I'm a Luddite at heart. It takes a lot of unnecessary work to get Adobe illustrator to draw a line that never captures the essence hand, soul and mind can. Time to get intimate with the world were living in and creating.  

      Artificial intelligence is an oxymoron. Nowadays when talking to the mechanical voice at Century Link I just keep hitting the 000's until a human is put on the line. Pay your bill?                

      •  Atomization ... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, shaharazade

        That's the problem, people cut off from face-to-face, trying to live in a world that they experience only second-hand, from the representations of others.
        In the future, nothing will be real.

        The GOP ... Government of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%

        by Azazello on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 09:08:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  exactly! (0+ / 0-)

          now I think I will get off this device and go talk to my veggies about the consequences and cause of global warming and tell them to buck up it's going to be a bumpy ride. I would talk to my grandaughter but she texts while speaking to a human face and she's not really there, she's wired and permanently distracted.

    •  Time was when the telephone was... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Azazello

      ... basic black and nondescript, sounded crystal-clear, and didn't get in the way of the conversation.  It was a standard and uniform device that was built to last forever, to the point where people basically didn't think about it.  

      What they thought about were the people they were able to talk to, across town or across the country or the globe.  

      And those ads for the Bell Telephone System were usually about the joys of talking with your family and close friends.

      Thou shalt not treat persons as things; nor treat things as persons.

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 09:22:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Um... I mean, yeah, but... . ....whaaa....? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, sockpuppet
    "Two I phones walk into a bar.... I forget the rest" and then they laugh together. First, it's a terrible joke, but the guy is so desperate, he finds it funny.
    The "guy" is John Malkovich, noted eccentric and the fact that it IS a stupid joke is what MAKES it funny.

    Siri is not an "intimate partner" it is a program to allow you to interact with your own data and applications more seamlessly and it is a true 1.0 technology.  Siri has limited functionality as is but promises to be AMAZINGLY powerful in future iterations.

    The move to be able to connect through technology has been happening for decades, and most of the technology widely embraced is about facilitating connections between people.  Facebook, for example, is not a mindless game people play by themselves, its a network to allow people to connect, at what ever depth and level they wish from facile "friending" and superficial tweets, to sharing very personal pictures, videos and conversations with friends and family.

    And the "gaming" community you describe is light-years ahead of where it was years ago.  Gaming used to be a solitary activity, or one you played with/against people through a sterile terminal-environment.  Now almost every major gaming platform has a way for people to connect live to talk, play, collaborate, compete, share ideas, and enjoy the game they are choosing to play in whole new ways.

    Be against technology all you want, but the points of this diary seem a more than few bridges too far.

    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 07:29:39 AM PDT

    •  Facebook is more than a "network." (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xanthippe2

      It's a vast surveillance machine.  

      And Google is more than a search engine and email:  It's another vast surveillance machine, that's so good at spying on people that NSA modeled one of its new databases after it.

      Knowledge is power.  When they know all about you, but you know little about them, who has the power?

      "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 09:16:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Le Sigh (0+ / 0-)

        a) I don't use it so I really don't care about the conspiracy theories.

        b) I don't care about the conspiracy theories.

        c) This has nothing to do with the original diarist's point that technology is undermining all personal aspects of society.

        d) Really?

        Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

        by Wisper on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 11:04:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  overweening "concerns" noted. (0+ / 0-)

          Your attitude demonstrates that you're not even worth my while to argue with, but for the benefit of others who may not know this, Facebook recently settled an enormous lawsuit to the tune of about $20 million for their privacy violations.  And Google has also settled legal actions about its own privacy invasions, also to the tune of eight figures.  And the item about the NSA database is straight from the NSA itself, because Congress was pissed off that they built their own adaptation of Google rather than buy something off the shelf.  

          As a generalization I'm friendly to NSA and the other TLAs, and not-friendly to private sector privacy invasion.  

          And as another generalization, if someone outside of DK said that stuff about CT to my face, in the same condescending tone you used, I'd unceremoniously tell them to go fuck themselves.  But since we can't do that around here, I'll simply tell you to go find a nice frozen cactus to use as a spindle.

          "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Tue Aug 14, 2012 at 02:30:17 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  where is technology taking society? (0+ / 0-)

    Answer: where society wants to go. Or at least in a general sense.

    What I mean is that what technology is made available and what people do with it is related to what we, as a society, want.

    Of course the corporations will try to manipulate and social engineer consumers to their advantage, but ideas like a "personal voice assistant" have been around since before Steve Jobs was born, and social networking websites like Facebook and Google+ are really just the current implementation of the old idea of virtual communities.

    As for your critique, I hadn't noticed the "lonely white guy" angle in these commercials I have to agree it's kind of creepy to imagine a person substituting a voice search tool for human companionship. Now, in a few tens of years we may be talking to something approaching true AI, and then there will be a truly interesting conversation!

  •  The idea is that the celebrities (0+ / 0-)

    featured in these ads have a reputation for being eccentric in the first place. They're just playing on that image.

    "A cynical, mercenary, demagogic press will produce in time a people as base as itself." - Joseph Pulitzer

    by CFAmick on Mon Aug 13, 2012 at 10:41:31 AM PDT

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