The Paper Smartphone

Everything old is new again.


Quote of the day:

What a strange practice it is, when you think of it, that a man should sit down to his breakfast table and, instead of conversing with his wife, and children, hold before his face a sort of screen on which is inscribed a world-wide gossip!

That isn't a modern scold denouncing smartphones; it's the sociologist Charles Horton Cooley writing about newspapers in 1909. (And not, for the most part, in a scolding way: Cooley went on to reply to the critics who found newspapers vulgar, asking them if the papers were "any more vulgar than the older kind of gossip? No doubt it seems worse for venturing to share with literature the use of the printed word.")

His breakfast-table comment reminds me of a tweet that was making the rounds a couple years ago:

[Hat tip for the Cooley quote: the Berkeley sociologist Claude S. Fischer, in The Boston Review, doing an able job of replying to some of today's smartphone scolds.]