Sunday, May 29, 2011

Liking Is for Cowards. Go for What Hurts.

The following excerpt is taken from Jonathan Franzen's op-ed piece for the NY Times, in which he discusses the difference between liking and loving. One is more narcissistic and impersonal, whereas the other is more vulnerable and sincere.

There is no such thing as a person whose real self you like every particle of. This is why a world of liking is ultimately a lie. But there is such a thing as a person whose real self you love every particle of. And this is why love is such an existential threat to the techno-consumerist order: it exposes the lie.

This is not to say that love is only about fighting. Love is about bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. And this is why love, as I understand it, is always specific. Trying to love all of humanity may be a worthy endeavor, but, in a funny way, it keeps the focus on the self, on the self’s own moral or spiritual well-being. Whereas, to love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.

In addition to what Franzen mentioned in the article, I believe that our smartphones are altering our thought process. Our brains are constantly bombarded with so much information that now our conversations are determined by our cellphone's news feeds. Our phones are depriving us from observing the world around us. They are also depriving us from formulating our own original well-thought and processed opinion about what is going on. If we find a news article that we like, instead of using words to describe what we like about it, all we have to do is hit the oh-so-convenient "like" button, and "share" it with the rest of the world.

Are our smartphones making us dumb?