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gemein/gesell

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From Georg Simmel:

Someone who sees without hearing is much more uneasy than someone who hears without seeing. In this there is something characteristic of the sociology of the big city. Interpersonal relationships in big cities are distinguished by a marked preponderance of the activity of the eye over the ear. The main reason for this is the public means of transportation. Before the development of buses, railroads, and trams in the nineteenth century, people had never been in a position of having to look at one another for long minutes or even hours without speaking to one another.

Except when they do…

I’m sure you’ve seen this already, but what the hell…

With the arrival of the cell phone, we move from Simmel’s public sphere of self-enclosed silent individuals toward something more complex: a public sphere of private individuals conducting and exposing their relatively private but nonetheless social relationships to one another. A gesellschaft that turns gemeinschaft of exposed gesellschafts (or are they gemeinschafts? It depends who’s on the other end of the line – the broker, the boss, or the spouse, the child, the lover,, etc…)

And then, of course, there’s the internet, the blog, the confessional post…

Written by adswithoutproducts

June 20, 2006 at 1:15 am

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