The last few decades have been characterized by novel technological advances that have changed how we communicate. Inventions such as the mobile phone and the personal digital assistants (PDAs) have changed how we communicate with huge implications on our lives as human beings. In this essay, I shall compare and contrast two essays; “Don’t Want to Talk About It? Order a Missed Call” by Matt Richtel and “Connected, Yes, but Hermetically Sealed” by Ben Stein, both of which address the issue of mobile technology. I shall then proceed to highlight the article whose thesis I agree with.
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Both authors agree that mobile phones and PDAs have made slaves of men. Stein states that we have ourselves in “chains of all kinds of devices, like the BlackBerry, the iPhone, and the Voyager.” He proceeds to demonstrate how people are constantly forced to act on the information which they receive through these devices. Richtel, on the other hand, laments that “we are slaves to our devices” and showcases how people are overwhelmed as a result of being connected to “devices and streams of data around the clock.”
The two authors agree that cell phones and PDAs bring a lot of pressure and cause unnecessary worries as a result of their immediacy. Stein notes that if cell phones and PDAs did not exist, the duties and obligations that we have would still be there, but they would not be causing us pressure and worry by being, constantly, at our heels. On the same note, Richtel recommends missed or indirect communication, which helps one to stifle communication.
The two articles offer differing views on how people can avoid the servitude that electronic devices create. Stein suggests that human beings can only enjoy solitude and discover themselves if they get rid of these electronic devices, which invade our privacy. Richtel, on the other hand, proposes that one-way communication is the means through which we can maintain our solitude and avoid unwanted interruptions or intimacies.
According to Richtel, it is real-time communication such as phone calls, which create pressure and overburden people. By reducing this through the use of voicemails and one-way communication means, this stress can be reduced. Stein does not agree with this since according to him, it is not only real-time communication that brings about issues since one-way communication links also create bonds of obligation for a person.
The two authors differ in their perception of the role that communication advances have had on communication between people. Richtel suggests that through one-way communication modes such as social networking sites, people can receive updates from friends and acquaintances therefore maintaining touch with others. As such, Richtel shows that communication advances have somewhat enhanced our communication abilities. Stein, on the other hand, argues that as a result of the advances in communication technology, people have lost touch with each other. To illustrate this point, Stein gives examples of how people in the streets and at work are too engrossed with their electronic devices to talk or even acknowledge the other people around them.
On my part, I agree more with the views expressed by Steins in his article. Stein’s assertion that real relationships have suffered as a result of the pressure that mobile phones and PDAs creates holds since, in the present times, people are still obligated to deal with work issues even from their homes. In the past, people enjoyed some solitude while at home or on travel since then they did not have to tackle work then. Stein’s declaration that we are “slaves to connectedness” therefore holds.
This paper set out to compare and contrast two essays dealing with the issue of modern technological advances. From the discussions presented herein, it is evident that there are some similarities between the two articles as well as differences. On the whole, the article that proposes that communication technology has turned us into a connected people who are hermetically sealed is the one that I found more plausible.