None of these observations is intended to condemn technology. They say that we have put in place a powerful technology and have not yet learned to use it in the best way. But these are early days. Just because we grew up with the internet, we tend to believe that the internet is all grown up. It is still up to us to make and shape it. I wrote my new book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other to mark a time of opportunity. I criticise the notion of internet “addiction” because addictive substances need to be discarded.
We are not going to discard connectivity technology. We need to form a more empowering partnership with it. In some areas the need for empowerment is now urgent, for example, in the area of privacy. Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, has declared privacy to be “no longer a social norm”. In Alone Together, I question such proclamations and the assumptions behind them. For what is intimacy without privacy? What is democracy without privacy? Privacy may not be convenient for social networking technology, but it is essential to people.