Amazon is turning us into a society of hermits.
All well put.
Kady M.
61

My initial reaction is to think of that shot of a commuter train in the days of black and white photography. It shows a train full of people on their way to to/from work, with nearly everyone “buried “ in a newspaper. Today that photo is usually meme-ified regarding how “modern technology is making us not social”; i.e. poking at the idea our smartphones are pulling us from some golden age of being highly social in public.

But I think there may be something deeper here. I am reminded of your recent posts on motivation. What motivates us to go shopping or to get something delivered? As a fellow Texan I’m sure you can think of a couple big reasons to prefer delivery. ;) For non-Texans allow me to give them: heat and traffic.

But in your brilliant example (recollection?) of record shopping as a form of dating or socialization, I think of one of the social differences I’ve observed between men and women. Women will (generally in my experience) get together for the explicit purpose of chatting and socializing. Men tend to need an excuse.

That excuse can take many forms, from sports to games, and television to drinking beer. In days of yore that would have included the stereotypical “poker night” and bowling night, or for the more high brow “whiskey and cigar night”.

Now what happens at these events is essentially what happens when women get together to chat and socialize; often the topics are more similar than not despite media sensationalism. The primary distinction is that generally I’ve found men need an excuse. And this is where I wonder about extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation.

In your fine example the goal is socializing, but the purpose (i.e. the excuse) is the shopping. Today many view media as our socializing. We have “friends” and “followers” online and we call it “social media” — which is to me a huge misnomer and ignorance of both history and media.

So if we socialize electronically, does our motivation to shop together go away? I wonder about your thoughts as to how these relate. Is the intrinsic motivation the desire to be social, leaving the trip to the mall or record store an external motivation? In the absence of the motivation to go to the store to spend time socializing, is online shopping a logical extension?

If that were the case, I would surmise the root to be the expropriation of socializing by the likes of Facebook and possibly Twitter, rather than Amazon. Which brings me to a separate but related question for you, Kady. Have you read The Diamond Age?

If so, what do you think of it, particularly with regards to motivational factors? I’ve never considered it in that context consciously, but with your recent conversations on motivation I am reconsidering it in that context. I may even need to re-read it with those lenses on.

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