From The Undoing Project.
"All you had was rubber bands and masking tape, so you fixed things with rubber bands and masking tape," she said. ...There weren't many luxuries. She and Amos had no phone and no car, but neither did most of the other people they knew. The shops were all small and particular. There was the knife sharpener, and the stonecutter, and the falafel seller. If you needed a carpenter or a painter you didn't bother to phone them, even if you owned a phone, because they never answered. You went downtown in the afternoon and hoped to bump into them. "Everything was personal, all transactions. The standard joke was: Someone runs out of their burning home to ask a friend on the street if they know someone in the Fire Department." There was no television, but there were radio's everywhere, and when the BBC came on, everyone stopped whatever they were doing to listen.
As I read through this description of a community, I was drawn to the personal connection that it portrays. It makes me think of the shift I felt when headphones became more prevalent with Walkmans. It felt to me that people who had the headphones on had put up a barrier with the world. They were unavailable. Do Not Disturb. It had not been so with transistor radios and a single ear piece. With the transistor radio, the person with the single ear piece was sneaking a listen to other things, like the ball game, while still being available and present with those around.
Today if I go out walking on a public trail, more than half the people I pass have isolated themselves from the world around them by the use of headphones. Including myself. I have my reasons, of course--and I break headphone etiquette by saying "hi" to people as they go by--but I still do it.
This is the baggage of technology. It helps in many ways, but there is always a cost. With greater awareness, the cost can be managed but it is ever present. It is the tension between a world where connection is always face to face, and one in which I can walk and shut out the world while I listen to teaching or worship, Car Talk or a book on Audible.