January 3rd, 2011
06:00 PM ET

Technology replacing personal interactions at what cost?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

"The year we stopped talking to one another."

That's what USA Today dubs 2010, in light of the unprecedented use of technology.
[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2011/images/01/03/art.bberry.jpg caption=""]
We are awash in technology. It's estimated that 93% of Americans now use cell phones or wireless devices. And one-third of those people are using so-called smartphones, which means the users can browse the Web and check e-mail on their phones.

According to an industry trade group, from June 2009 to June 2010, cell phone subscribers sent 1.8 trillion text messages. That was up 33% from the year before.

In other words, most of us spend our days walking around with our noses buried in our cell phones, BlackBerrys, iPhones, etc.

And while we're doing that, we're tuning out the people who are actually in the same room as us. We seem to have long ago crossed the line as to where doing this stuff is appropriate - people take calls while they're out to dinner, text or check e-mail while on a date, you name it.

Some experts say it's time to take a step back and reassess. They're reminding people that technology can be turned off, and that it's important to connect with people in person. They worry that kids won't know what it's like to share a story or actually look someone in the eyes. And that's sad.

But others point out the benefits of all this technology - staying in touch with friends and family, efficiently using time once spent doing nothing and being able to check in from anywhere.

Here’s my question to you: At what cost has technology replaced personal interactions?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Dave in Orlando writes:
The cost is great, but the problem is that much of it is invisible. Kids today have no idea of how to interact and actually read someone's face – you can't do that on Facebook. They think nothing of ripping someone in an email or blogging with little or no idea of the consequences. People say things over the internet that would get them punched out in person.

David in Las Vegas writes:
The cost, Jack, is America's future. Look at the international test scores in reading, math and science. Our children spend more time strengthening their thumbs than learning the skills to be competitive on the world stage.

Sheila writes:
I think that we need to have good technology etiquette while in public, but I think that technology does keep me in touch with people I wouldn't necessarily have the time to meet with face-to-face on a regular basis.

Jed in New York writes:
There are times at work when the elevator doors open and I see 4 or 5 people, all looking into their phones and typing with their thumbs. I have a smart phone, but I'm really not so sure I like it; it's like a tiny version of the desk I already spend so much time at.

Brian in Boise, Idaho writes:
Jack, Seriously? What a load of crap. What does USA Today think we're doing with all of this technology? Baking pies? No, we're talking to each other. Just because it's not the way old people talk to each other doesn't make it any less valid a form of communication.

Steven in Los Angeles writes:
I was watching your show on my iPhone while typing this comment. This will be short because I need to update my status on Facebook from "in a relationship" to "single." I need to let my partner know how I feel so I'll text them before I submit the change. Isn't technology cool, as in cold.

Filed under: On Jack's radar • Technology
soundoff (192 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Personal interaction will continue to decline, and people will become totally intolerant of one another, making conflicts among humans, the worst they have ever been.

    January 3, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  2. Pisher in Harrisburg

    Just the opposite, Jack. Social networking has helped me find displace family from war, stay in touch with old friends and pick up many new friends and colleagues along the way, giving me a rich and active social life. We are building virtual communities, networks and checking in with one another as if we lived and worked in the same neighborhood. As a front end Baby Boomer, I am able to keep in touch with everyone from my friends, to my grandchildren to colleagues in their retirement and until just recently with my 90 year old father and 92 year old mother in a continuing care facility. G-d bless the wonderful powers of the internet.

    January 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  3. Judie Wm's -- El Lago TX

    The price ? Poor one on one relationships...inability to have a conversation without interruptions of cell phones, texting, twitter (whatever that is !), and all of this is sad. I wish every restaurant across the country would ban cell phones as I do not care to listen to other's speak loudly about whatever.......it is rude and inconsiderate.

    We've lost the art of communicating with one another, and what is out there on personal sites is not worth reading...PLUS...LISTEN UP PEOPLE...a court order can be requested for ALL OF YOUR RECORDS in child custody, divorce, etc. When will you "get it"....

    p.s. Welcome back....you have been missed Jack.

    January 3, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  4. Peg from N.Y.

    Too high a cost.

    January 3, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
  5. Rich McKinney, Texas

    The cost of jobs for one. We should have seen this coming though Jack. The internet has replaced the United States postal Service for mail delivery. Computers designed to work from teleprompts replace more workers who answered the phone and also answered questions. Soon doctors will be seeing patients online and currently I refill all of my prescriptions on line so that took some pharmacists job away. I do all my banking online and my pay goes to the bank in the form of direct deposit so there goes a few more jobs.

    January 3, 2011 at 2:55 pm |
  6. Loren

    Your question assumes that people have an unlimited capacity for personal interaction. What technology has done is allow us to have and maintain contact with a far greater number of people than we could in the days of writing letters, while at the same time allow us to maintain control over whom we will have personal contact. Given how crazy some of us are, that would seem to be a good thing.

    January 3, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  7. John from Alabama

    Jack: Technology puts people out of work, and customers do not like talking to computers. Technology speeds up things when many Americans want their lives to slow down. Technology takes away the sounds of business, such as, thank you come again, does that size fit, or it is on sale today. These are the sounds lacking in a technolgy run world. The human touch.

    January 3, 2011 at 3:11 pm |
  8. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    What do you mean Jack? There are more personal interactions now. It's called meet the family of the person you killed while talking or texting on a cell phone. It means call a business and be on hold listening to music for hours on end. It means texting your parent who is sitting on the couch in the same room. What's wrong with all of that? it's the new fad.

    January 3, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  9. southerncousin

    I notice that people are always looking at their cellphones rather than the scenery. I think it is part of the NEA's dumbing down of America, but I notice that these same people are listening to rap and urban music so loudly, it mkaes my house shake, so in addition to being dumb, they are rude. It may just be here in Memphis, but they also seem to be throwning their trash out the car windows, like they are entitled to have someone pick the trash up for them.

    January 3, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  10. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    I think it can be very harmful to a family. I've taken notice to people I know who are living in the same household communicate through Facebook with each other on their day. That tells me there is no family set down at supper time. I know for fact that that is true for this family. I have a hard time calling my daughters even at night without getting a voicemail. When you start communicating with people through Facebook, twitter, and texting you are cutting down on human contact. Today if you want to see someone you can use your cell phone to see their face. You can even watch a TV show, movie, or some sports event on your phone. This makes me laugh. For all the years we tried to get away from watching something on a small screen we are right back where we started from. Accept for the quality of the picture. Everything is done alone, that's what makes it so sad.

    January 3, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  11. Gary H. Boyd

    Mr. Cafferty, technology has left me in the dirt . I am 74 years old, have a land line telephone, write letters on a typewriter, pay my bills using the post office, take pictures with a 35mm camera for which film's now hard to find and I drive a 9 year old car. Cell phones, computers, , ipods , facebook and tweeting are out of the question. However Jack, I am very comfortable with my procrastination.

    Gary Boyd in Scottsdale, Arizona

    January 3, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
  12. Ray in Knoxville

    Jack, the biggest cost of all this technology is civility.

    January 3, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  13. Terry- Greensburg, IN "Hoosier Hillbilly"

    I believe that our society is losing its sense of humanity–that the furious pace of modern day life is robbing us of the compassion, politeness and mutual respect that many feel characterized us in bygone years. And the culprit is technology.
    I'm 65 & retired & the world has passed me by. During my years here on earth there has been the biggest changes ever [ so far ] for seeing a "Changing World!"

    Today's technology is certainly above & behond what I ever dreamed–with nameless, faceless computers taking the place of humans, especially in business settings. Computers have no feelings, no empathy, no vitality–no humanity. There's no emotional appeal to such soulless entities. Yet we are forced to deal with them in every area of life.
    At my age I'll never get use to it!

    January 3, 2011 at 3:42 pm |
  14. Kim Smith

    At what cost? How about our children unable to carry on an intelligent conversation, or their inability to co-exist with other human beings? Social skills are rapidly becoming non-existant and abstract reasoning a shocking rarity. Government and corporate retailers love all this, of course, because we become the lemmings they so want us to be in order to better manipulate the masses.

    January 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  15. Matt


    The art of having a meaningful conversation is almost gone. As a result no one has to be civil or respectful as we can hide behind an electronic curtain called the internet, social networks, email and other marvels of technology.

    Give me the days of handwritten communication, face-to-face meetings, no emails and no social networks.


    January 3, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  16. thom richer

    The lack of personal interaction is a deliberate ploy to bleed more monies from the American consumer and is in actuality supported or at least abetted by the U.S. Congress. By the simple elimination of personal contact with communication companies and other technology businesses, we cannot effectively protect ourselves against over charges, illegal fees, fraud, shoddy goods, illegal transaction, or inflated interest charges. It purposely makes it too difficult or too frustrating to confront those we do business with. This is especially true of the communication world of business. The cost will eventually be the total collapse of our economy. People must be placed first above all else.

    Thom Richer
    Negaunee, MI

    January 3, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  17. Michael H. in Albuquerque, NM

    Technology has added a new dimension to personal interaction. In most cases the only time I am even able to talk to my dispersed family and friends is via cell phones and facebook. They are usefull tools.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:08 pm |
  18. George


    I see your point about personal interactions. However if a person can balance personal interactions and technology then its fine. Times are changing fast, real fast, and everything is becoming mobile. One example, look at the US Army, they want to issue a smart phone to every Soldier. So here is my point, get with the program Grandpa Jack!

    January 3, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  19. Norm

    In order to get the new i-phone, you have to be willing to put your social security number on the activation screen. This is just plain wrong!

    January 3, 2011 at 4:11 pm |

    Tampa, Fl I live with my wife in a modest 3 bedroom home. When I can't find her after 3 passes around our home, I call her cell phone from my land line, as I don't have a cell phone. She never answers. She then is often irritated when I just do as I please and don't get her input. Perfect technological solution to old age.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  21. Michael, Kingston, Ontario

    I think there is a cost and a benefit to tech replacing personal interactions. With a busy lifestyle I find I know more about what is happening in my friends lives because of facebook, twitter, etc then I would if I got together with them once in a blue moon personally. On the cost side soon people will be so used to interacting thru tech that they will forget how to personally interact with each other.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  22. Rick, Medina, OH


    Work with me on this theory ... what if email and texting were invented BEFORE the telephone? What if, for a century and a half, all we had was snail mail, telegraphs, email and texting devices? And all of a sudden, we were able to add voice communications to it all? We could say, "You don't have to write him any more ... you can actually talk to him!" The telephone and voice communication would be the rage today.

    There is a restaurant in this town that is absolutely cell-free. And the food is great! It's my wife and I's favorite!


    Medina, OH

    January 3, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  23. Alex in Gig Harbor, WA

    English teachers must cringe the most as they see children unable to write a coherent sentence with proper capitalization and punctuation. I'm sure many of the kids would respond, "i dont see where the prob is at"

    January 3, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  24. Orris, in Florida

    Many people become so engrossed with the technology of texting that they lose consciousness of where they are and where they are going. Ie., they stop interacting with the real world of people and things present, and become obsessed with whoever they are communicating via texting. The result is oftentimes very tragic. The car they are driving becomes a destructive force. The people in the room where they may be sitting become as distant objects – not living humans with whom to interact. This is one way technology has destroyed interpersonal relationships.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  25. sheila

    I think that we need to have good technology etiquette while in public but I think that technology does keep me in touch with people I wouldn't necessarily have the time to meet face to face with on a regular basis.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  26. Cliff Glass - Rego Park, New York


    As a nation, we need to realize that socialization is not browsing Facebook, but interacting with a bank teller instead of an ATM, a cashier instead of a checkout kiosk, and conversation instead of Email is.
    With the new Congress now permitting the use of Blackberries, Iphones and the like by members while in session, we can look forward to less legislation, but 435 newly opened Twitter accounts.
    God help us.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  27. David Gerstenfeld

    The cost Jack, is America's future. Look at the international test scores in reading,math & science. Our children spend more time strengthening their thumbs then learning the skills to be competetive on the world stage. Most can't write a gramatical sentence without abreviations. And math, 'forget-about-it' . Education leaders had better wake up & I mean Yesterday !
    David, Las Vegas

    January 3, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  28. Bill brown

    Once a senior relative said that the phone (land line) and the answering machine would ruin our lives.... LOL

    January 3, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  29. Jason from Hollywood

    I say we embrace even MORE technology to enhance our lives. Ten years ago, the world was at our fingertips and now the world is in our pants...OUR PANTS, JACK!!

    Imagine where the world could be tomorrow...

    January 3, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  30. Ian from MN

    Technology really isn't decreasing personal social interaction much if at all. It's just giving us new ways to interact other than in person. There are people I much more easily interact with today far more often because of technology that before I wouldn't have interacted with at all. It's like people who are 100's of miles away are sitting in the same room with me at all times.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  31. Mr. Bill

    I totally agree with the dissasociation of people with the rest of the world. Why is it that people get in their cars, then immediately start talking on the phone? And another mystery to me – there are people in my office who don't know the person sitting in the next cubicle, but they email them! I wish we could block emails to individuals closer than 3 cubicles away!
    Bill from Richmond.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  32. Jed Levin

    There are times at work when the elevator doors open and I see 4 or 5 people, all looking into their phones and typing with their thumbs. I have a smart phone, but I'm really not so sure I like it – it's like a tiny version of the desk I already spend so much time at. I'm thinking of switching back to a regular old mobile phone, which used to seem like miracle enough. I'm careful not to use the smart phone too much, especially while commuting or walking around. I prefer to have a little time to just think or read a book.

    I think signs are that this has all gone too far very quickly. There's more communication, but a lot of seems awfully trivial and to brief to have much meaning or care behind it.

    Hastings-on-Hudson, NY

    January 3, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  33. Weber

    What are we losing? Personal courtesy, face to face, family time, fitness, safety...all these things are slowly going away due to our growing dependence on these devices. Pretty soon, we will literally have to talk to no one and just communicate through some sort of twitterlike personal portal, and thru that portal we will order things, get paid, do work...etc

    As an old school person, it is becoming apparent this is really affecting the youth and the importance of personal interaction will diminish as we go forward.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
  34. Hurry

    Did you just wake up from a long hibernation to realize that this is an issue ? There are bigger things to worry about, for example, terrorism.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  35. MIke in TX

    Well thanks to technology we do have a means to talk to you Jack where otherwise we could not. That huge benefit aside, our family this Christmas did enjoy the personal side of each other very much even though there was a huge amount of texting going on. There are times when a situation dictates sending a text vs making a call but far to often I miss the conversations so I aggravate the heck out of them and call anyway. Glad your back and this text is all on you my friend

    January 3, 2011 at 4:50 pm |
  36. Kenneth Krieger

    The light bulb was high tech. The only drawback that comes from these devices is we will gain weight.. Cape Coral, Florida

    January 3, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  37. Annie, Atlanta

    I’m only seeing the positive, so far. Technology makes keeping in touch a lot simpler than it used to be. Besides, we're human and will always need interaction.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  38. David

    I'm sorry, I was texting. What did you ask?

    January 3, 2011 at 4:54 pm |
  39. Brian

    Technology is a blessing. However now I find it being misused. It seems more and more these days technology is being invented for dummies, or that's who is targeted for this stuff. It is a problem when you see a family of four in a restaurant all with their noses buried into a cell phone or texting gadget and not talking to each other. I have a cell phone but it is almost never used accept for an emergency, I don't have texting, I won't pay for it. I have a friend and everytime I go to lunch with her, it's lunch with her and the hundreds of other people she's texting or talking to on the phone. It's really brought the most obnoxious behavior in human beings.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  40. Dave, Orlando, FL

    The cost is great, but the problem is that much of it is invisible. Kids today have no idea of how to interact and actually read someone’s face – you can’t do that on Facebook. They think nothing of ripping someone in an E-Mail or blog with little or no idea of the consequences. People say things over the internet that would get them punched out in person. And there is no such thing as a private conversation over the internet, which few people really understand. I’m surprised half of hospital emergency room patients aren’t there because of walking into light poles while yapping on their gooseberries.

    If I were still dating and my date took a phone call for anything other than a critically ill loved one, they would go home in a cab.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  41. KDS Irvine, CA

    Technology has become such an obsession that people don't even pay attention to what is going on around them. I was at a red light and saw a guy riding a bicycle while text messaging. He was so focused on his text, that he didn't see the fire hydrant in front of him and ran into it and fell. It was a big laugh to those who saw it, but it shows just how dependent and obsessed with technology we have become.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  42. Corvus

    Next: digital implants in the brain. You will be actually speaking to a human, when suddently... they look off in the distance... "Excuse me, I'm taking a call now".... and then they stop talking to you as they strike up a discussion with the person on the phone, *without actually having to pull out a phone.*

    Some people will think this is a cool idea. But it is the end of humanity is we know it. And it's coming.

    And it will be the end of common courtesy.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
  43. AgentG

    We have narrowed our definition of technology to an extremely small field. "Technology" today really only refers to the Internet and mobile computing. We have lost sight of advances in the physical sciences, sensors, robotics, energy storage, transportation, construction, and many other fields. This is a very dangerous and misguided view that is being amplified by a terribly uninformed body of journalists in our media.

    Therefore, I reject the definition of technology as used here. I believe that the question is directed to digital media or social media, which is a tiny part of technology.

    In answer to the question, everyone should have a healthy skepticism online interaction. We will see more forms of mental illness resulting from the conflation of online identity with real identity.

    January 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  44. Pat O'Brien

    It is affecting our relations with our neighbors, our families, and our communities. People simply don't talk to each other much anymore. You see it everywhere. People talking or texting and ignoring everything around them. It is especially scary when they are driving. What could be more important than their safety, and that of others, and the world around them? Are they all on call brain surgeons? Are they carrying the codes to start WWIII? What? I don't get it. I suspect most the communications are what we in the Southwest call, "toro poo poo."

    January 3, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  45. Tony Powell

    "But others point out the benefits of all this technology...efficiently using time once spent doing nothing."

    This reminds me of an old Peanuts comic strip where Sally Brown tells her brother Charlie Brown that he has a telephone call. We see Snoopy taking a nap in Charlie Brown's lap. Charlie Brown says, "Tell them I'll have to call back. My dog is asleep on my lap and I don't want to disturb him." This is what we have lost. Reflective, quality time "doing nothing."

    January 3, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  46. Joel

    While being conected is great we are missing out on intimacy which is much more rewarding. Once again we have cheapened our existance and taken the easy way out to avoid having to "work" in a relationship. Depends on what your priorities are.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  47. Mary N. Drachler

    On the plus side, I can see my daughter as I talk to her in Romania using Skype!

    January 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  48. Dan Thomas

    It's frustrating to watch drivers on their cell phones, smart or not, and not even looking in the direction of oncoming traffic. I wonder what they will say to the police officer when someone is accidentally killed or has to be sent to the ER?

    January 3, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  49. Squirt South Carolina

    The 'thumb-nummers' don't think what they're writing will have implications and leave a trail, but they are wrong, of course!! But more importantly, the new tech has done one thing that few people believed it would do—the anonymity of the touch screen has made users much more arrogant, much more ignorant and much more disrespectful!

    January 3, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  50. Bradley, Portland, OR

    Technology like a smartphone allows you to interact with the people you WANT to interact with at any given moment, and not whoever happens to be in a room with you.

    This actually gives people more freedom of choice.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  51. weaver

    The lastest technology has become the lastest status symbol. If you don't have it, you're out of the loop. And if you're out of the loop, you're less employable, in a dog eat dog employment climate... and socially.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  52. Scott in Billings, MT.

    I am sick and tired of seeing people out in public obsessed with their techno gadgets. At this rate, by the next decade, people will lose the ability of interacting face-to-face with others. Don't get me wrong, I too have a smart phone, but I rarely leave the house with it. Yes that's right...I am one of those people ypu sometimes see in public who is actually looking around them and watching where they are going, and even caring on convesations with other human beings in person no less.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  53. Josh

    The glib response to this piece is the article should be retitled "Old Dude Out of Touch With Power of Technology By Focusing on a Dated Interpretation" But lets face it, that is a long title for article even on line. The truth of the matter, is a lot of the social technologies out these days are developed to enhance real world person to person interaction not isolate it to the digital world. Do people ignore those around them while texting? Yes. They also do it while reading the newspaper, listening to their 1980's walkman, sing to themselves, or if you are in NYC like myself just sit on the train. The more accessible this technology is, the more apparent the effects of it, but those effects have always been their it is human nature to tune out those you are not interested in speaking to. Take away my mp3 player, my cell phone, my Ipad, my Kindle, my newspaper, my book, and love of humming and I am still going to ignore the people in the street around me, or the too loud conversations at the next table over. This is not a matter of technology, it is a matter of disinterest.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  54. Dawn

    Earlier today I shared with a friend of mine that I didn't want to go "on line" to get information from the IRS–I wanted to talk to a representative! Also, my children CANNOT send a thank you note via e-mail–enough, already!

    January 3, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  55. Pete from Georgia

    Therapists will be inundated with patients from here on out.
    All this technology produces loneliness, insecurity, more loneliness, selfishness, and........................did I mention loneliness ??

    January 3, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  56. StopTheMadness

    I happen to agree totally. I know for a fact that I hate cell phones. Everywhere you go people are yelling into their phones or being rude by holding up people in lines because they are to busy to take the money out to pay for whatever they are buying. And let's not forget the fact that when you answer your phone you hear one of three questions. 1. Where are you? 2. What are you doing? 3. When are you going to get home? Well if I wanted you to know when where and what I was doing I would have told you before I left. All these devices are are babysitters. I own one guess where it sits in my glove box when on the road I only use it when absolutely needed. and at home it is shut off and in my desk drawer. I have a home phone and if it isn't important I don't want to use it. And the sad part is I am a techie.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
  57. Dave Elliott

    At dinner with family the other night, my cell rang. Others around me paused while I might answer the phone. I didn't. Shock at the table? Yes, especially from my 16-year-old niece, who had her face buried in her iPhone the entire dinner. It can be done, but it's tough.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
  58. Jerry Johns Creek, GA

    Jack, I am 9 months older than you and frankly I really enjoy all the new and developing technology. It is so much easier to keep in touch with a broad band of friends and associates. I think that the ties that are created with new technologies are even stronger since the communications with those close to us is much more frequent and timely. Watching my grandkids interact, I have no issues or problems with their social skills and abilities to communicate eye to eye when it is appropriate.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  59. Brian Harrington

    So here I am telling you what I think about "high tech" communication pathways through a ......high tech communication pathway!

    It's good we've moved beyond waxed strings and soup cans, but enough is too much. Sure texts and e-mails are handy tools, just like any other tool, but today's youth (of any age) is really going overboard. I believe the art of the spoken word is a dying art-and it is an art. People seem to be losing the ability to interpret tone inflection for the REAL meaning behind the thought. Emotions are mostly lost or misunderstood.

    I believe hundreds of years from now, archeologists will find skeletal remains whose thumbs will be long and stringey(?), ear drums will be gone and perhaps even vocal cords missing or regressed to the point that it is obvious they were not able to produce subtle tones. The skeleton will be installed in the Smithsonian and given a label.."2010 Man".
    Happy New Year Jack

    January 3, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  60. Marta

    Northern Louisiana
    Cyborgs used to be scary science fiction, seems to me we move closer to becoming a society of them everyday. Technology is at a point where it is rude, disrespectful and intrusive. Never before has our world been so incredibly connected and our individuals so incredibly isolated. Affairs and cheating are so much easier; sometimes it happens in the same room (even on the same couch)as our significant others. It is a bit scary in a way. To quote a nasty Star Trek villian, "We are Borg!"

    January 3, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  61. Mike D

    One of the few times you said something that made sense Jack.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
  62. Vince Medlock

    Technology has not replaced personal interactions. It has merely changed them. It is now possible to stay in touch with more than just the people in the same room. This is a good thing. How often do we find ourselves in a room full of people with whom we have nothing in common? I don't think anyone has damaged his ability to have a relationship by expanding the universe of people with whom he can HAVE a relationship.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  63. Kristopher

    Jack, you've really touched an open nerve of mine with this issue. People's obsessive addiction to technology not only has re-defined innapropriate and rude behavior in public , but has promulgated social isolation and indifference to others. We're rapidly becoming a society where personal interaction is being replaced with earbuds and personal electronic devices to the point where it's rare when you can even greet a passing stranger on the street.
    As a college level instructor, I find these devices even moreso intrusive, with students who cannot be bothered by paying attention in class but rather, ignore my classroom "no cell phones" policy and maintain their social agenda and/or surf the web via their electronic devices. Sadly, I fear that it's only going to become more ubiquitous and that we're headed into some bizarre social sci-fi horror setting.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  64. Tim

    Perhaps it's the company you keep, or the low expectations people have of one another. Nobody I know "ignores" someone else in the same room while on the phone or texting. I know people like to talk about that as if it's some sort of growing problem, but I haven't seen it in real life.

    Unless you're talking about a teenager in the same room as their parents, which they would ignore anyway. So that doesn't count.

    Honestly, if people don't like this, then tell your friends or family members. Get real. If someone actually ignored you and did this, why would you hang around with them at all? Problem solved.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  65. mo

    I see people texting while sitting next to each other instead of facing each other and talking.It seem with all of the electronic some people are stepping over the line with things they say and do because they are not face to face with that person .Lack of maturity and electronic communication means trouble

    January 3, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
  66. Ken in Maryland

    Hang on, Jack, can't talk to you now, I'm texting you my answer...

    January 3, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  67. Scott Stodden

    I Will Agree With You Jack To A Certain Point That People Abuse The Technology That Has Been Given To Us By Texting, Emailing, Taking Calls In Public Restaurants Etc.... The List Goes On And On! On The Other Hand Technology Has Made It All The More Easier To Stay In Touch With Family And Friends Round The Clock 24 Hours A Day! Yes People Do Abuse Technology Sometimes But The Real Question Is Where Would We Be Today Without It? Probably Still Dialing People On The Old Phones That You Actually Had To Manually Dial! LOL

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,Illinois)

    January 3, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  68. Renee

    My fiancée and I have rules with our cell phones. On vibrate during dates, off for at least one day of the week, no usage except emergencies or family calls after 7 pm. It works well for us by both keeping us in touch with the world, but also individuals and each other!

    January 3, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  69. Ed from California

    Some of the technology is good, ie. email, getting on the web, and even.... making phone calls. What's bad, is today's kids can't count out change or get through the day w/out their phones, or a computer. My granddaughter will text her friend, w/her friend sitting right next to her. Who knows Jack, I'm glad I'm retired!

    January 3, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
  70. Paulette in Dallas,PA

    Life is too depersonalized these days. Technological gadgets can never replace human relationships. It is too detached and void of emotion. It will never take the place of human touch,a hug, or any shared emotion.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  71. Griff

    "Welcome back jack, hope you are fit after your long break. The weather is beautiful here in BC. As for this question. I thin k I'm smart enough without those phones, I have my computers and the internet. No phone except a mobile I use about twice a month. Peace/privacy is number one for me."

    January 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  72. Deborah Seibert,. Co

    No one can spell anymore.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
  73. chris

    In my opinion our downward antii-social spiral began sometime around the time when the word 'whatever' became a sentence.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  74. Randy

    Technology has revolutionized society, and this is only the beginning. People always have the option of stepping back, but they won't. They have no good reason to.

    This article isn't going to make them suddenly realize what they are missing. Those who read it will either shrug it off because they are content with their technological connections, or they will agree with you because they already disconnected, or more likely never connected in the first place.

    Wait until Digital Telepathy becomes a reality. Then you will see a real revoultion. No amount of old school nostalgia will be able to compete.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  75. Telo

    The cost is the authenticity shared among human beings. The cost is shared purpose. Beware technology: it is our civilization's Achilles heel.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  76. Donna Ellis

    The most important issue facing the country is lowering the debt, which I would like to see addressed by taxing millionaires and up in addition to cutting the military.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  77. Jane

    It is so bad that I seriously want to suggest to the producers of AMC's "The Walking Dead" that the actors are missing an important prop. THEIR CELL/SMART PHONES. Thats exactly what it looks like out on the streets today...the walking dead.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  78. Phil in KC

    I'll say this – kids today sure don't know how to spell or write. They no longer think spelling, punctuation or capitalization matter. They don't know the difference between homophones (e.g., to, two and too). In some ways technology is making our kids smarter. But in some very important ways, it is making them dumber.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:23 pm |
  79. the_dude

    Personal interactions are over-rated. I only need / want personal interaction with my friends & family. Don't need to interact with anyone from work or some random stranger.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
  80. Prabin Adhikari

    Jack I dunno how to write well. Where can I get help at? Lol. I hope you can help me out.

    College Park,

    January 3, 2011 at 5:25 pm |
  81. Eric

    I know this is so sad, but I've actually caught myself texting my partner who was upstairs instead of going up and having a conversation. I can't even remember what it was like growing up without this technology. You waited to talk to family at the dinner table, now I text my family with updates on my life on the fly. I have less real conversations now than any point in my life. But at the same time, I feel more connected than I ever have. Even though my family is spread out across the nation, I can have multiple conversations with them at the same time. So in my case the technology has actually brought me closer to family. But there are times when I miss those late night conversations with a hand on my shoulder. I guess this is the price of moving forward.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  82. Jordan K

    Maybe some people need to adapt to the evolution of mankind. At first lighting fires required a natural source like a lightening. Then there were those stones and woods. a new tool in the box. Same here, this is part of our movement FORWARD!

    I was 9 when i assembled my very own 1st pc. Now I'm 26. do u expect me to write letters or purchase the paper or call people for a one line reminder? tough luck old man! get a poll of USATODAY's readers, i bet the smallest percentage of them is under 35. thats the people who have pushed this huge jump in smartphone use.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  83. Denise

    Jobs, of course.........people have been replaced with computers. There is a generation of people that are lost, because they are not computer literate, and another generation that does not know how to get off their fannies (ass) to do anything because they are so use to pushing a button. So I guess if you don't have a job in the tech industry, government or health care you won't get one. People are not waiting in lines to fill out unemployment forms anymore either. The numbers might look down in the polls, but it is only because Americans have given up. Change, yes we need a big change.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
  84. Chad T

    Its a Catch 22. Its usually an older generation working on these new technologies to pedal to the youth who love the new ways to communicate, play games etc. So then this parent comes home from work and is then supposed to tell their children to not use technology so much, but its what it putting food on the table. Its very hard to shield children from this stuff, as its all around. I think there is no stopping this trend, and only fear that it will get worse.

    Normal, IL

    January 3, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  85. Robert Gundersen

    Jack, I think you are showing your age. Just because people use these electronic devices does not mean they do not talk to one another. My two children both do texting, etc but when they are with their friends, which is quite often, they chat away face to face just like people have been doing for ever. Don't be such an old grump!

    January 3, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  86. Nick V

    People can say that they're "staying in touch with friends and family" but, when they use these gadgets, they're really just talking/obsessing about themselves – trumpeting every last detail of their existence no matter how ordinary – and ignoring everything else. All this technology is contributing to what I think is THE WORST problem with today's culture – the "ME FIRST" mindset.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  87. Robin Bray

    I've drooped Facebook and people on my friends list were insulted they had been deleted.

    What they did not seem to realize was that I had posted as my status, for a week before hand, the reasons I was leaving and I would be gone from everyone on my friend list.

    They were upset over losing a friend count number but couldn't bother to read that friend's status update.

    We've become just a number in a status collecting world. Not a real live person.

    Robin Bray
    Charlotte, NC

    January 3, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  88. Tom - Missouri

    I can't answer your question because I'm a member of the world's most exclusive club. I don't have a cell phone and I manage to get along just fine both at work and at home.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
  89. Steve Gaydos

    We need to slow down because we are moving too fast. I bet if you looked at all the email, text messages, facebook posts, etc., it would be people "talk'in loud and saying noth'in".

    I could care less that Vicky is going to the dry cleaners today.

    Steve G
    Randolph, NJ

    January 3, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  90. Joe


    In our world of Narcissism instant gratification is necessary; therefore, no one has a sense of community, a sense of caring for the other; only, a sense of immediate impulsive whims satisfied by technological devices. We feel a need to connect with others, but our connection is solely with a text message, not real interaction with an appeal to our true senses (touch, see, hear, etc.). The result is more despair, because humans need more than what technology can provide.
    Joe, Binghamton, NY
    P.S. We are humans, we are not machines.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:32 pm |
  91. Bob - Eli Somalia

    I see it as sad and at one time I was in technology!!

    Today the most important use of a VERY fast, VERY powerful computer is video games, music and pictures. If it was not for those three things it is VERY doubtful Tera-Byte hard drives would ever be needed.

    And all those "smart phones"??? Is it possible that we need them so much because we can't think for ourselves anymore and we can't carry on a conversation because we lost that skill also?? These days if I ask someone a question over coffee the FIRST thing they do is reference their smart phone BEFORE they think!! Sometimes I think they even do so if I ask them their name!!!!

    We, and the world in general, have become like Nero. Fiddling while the world smolders and struggles to still support life as we "knew" it but no longer "have it."

    The "Let da Good Times Roll!!" attitude has blinded us to reality and reality WILL win in the end!! And trust me, reality can be a real tough teacher that gives no second chances!

    January 3, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
  92. Ian

    Stepping away from technology is stepping away from the future.

    That said, there is no excuse for bad manners, either way.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  93. Carole

    I was thinking about this very topic after reading about a local school possibly changing its policy to allow cell phone use during lunch periods. It's too much. We have to realize that technology has its place, but it can never replace (direct) human to human interaction. I wonder whether or not the constant "need" to stay connected has contributed to the (seemingly) increasing frequency of teen suicides that I keep hearing about. Maybe it's a stretch, I don't know. People need to shut off their devices and slow down! Look at the road while you're driving. Pay attention to the people who are next to you – wherever you are. It's okay to not know what everyone is doing or what is going on in the world all the time!

    January 3, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  94. Joe

    Step away from the technology, except to post a message about this article! LOL.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  95. Tracy W

    I think the cost will be greater than we anticipate. Less human interaction, less exercise, less manners. But, the full extent will not be known until it's too late.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
  96. Graham Jura

    Considering my general distaste for the mouthbreathing public as a whole, I see it as a price well spent.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:40 pm |
  97. Ross Morgan

    Mr. Cafferty,

    I couldn't agree more. What really troubles me is the disconnect we (adults) have with regards to how our actions are influencing younger generations. As a former teacher and now Board of Education member, I attend numerous board meetings, where we discuss the pervasiveness of texting in classrooms. The irony is, during our board meetings, inevitably, board members will be texting/checking email on their blackberries, while we should be giving our full attention to the discussion at hand. It would be funny, if it weren't so tragic.

    Ross Morgan
    Age 30
    Gypsum, Colorado

    January 3, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  98. Jonathan

    Easy to say stop using technology. What about when tech enters your home via work? Are you going to tell your boss that you don't reply to emails after 5pm? Is that reasonable for some professions? Not all states have unions to enforce rules.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
  99. Otto (New York)

    Technology has not replaced personal interactions; rather, it has given us more peace of mind. We find ourselves enveloped into our devices, thereby tuning out those that would have been a nuisance.

    Frankly, I'd rather use a smart device than having to communicate with certain people; who seems to take pleasure in being an annoyance than positive.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  100. Jim

    Part of the cost can be figured in a person's or business' expenditure on "tech" items. We see a steady stream of clients in our shop that will let everything go, but they "need" their Internet, so they scrape together enough to keep the machine going above other costs. We have as a society become so dependent on "tech" and the subsequent connected feelings that these trends are now facts instead.

    And yet, it is also the means for a wife with three children to remain in daily contact with her husband serving over in Afghanistan. It is the window to the rest of the world for an amputee that affords more spirit to each day than myself. It is the true double-edged sword of our existence.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  101. Randy Beers

    And that's sad.....?

    Brilliant commentary and writing here. I think the point would be that children might not develop proper or 'necessary' social skills....not that it would be 'sad' not to share a story.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
  102. birddog in Mississippi

    I'd say it has hurt, not because people don't communicate, but because we often communicate anonymously. I find that people on blogs are much ruder than people who you speak to in person and also that they simply make stuff up.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  103. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    At what cost has technology replaced personal interactions?

    No cost at all–technological interactions are just as personal as in-person ones. Actually, the sum of in-person and technological interactions now are likely greater than just the in-person ones of years ago–it's not a cost, it's a benefit.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  104. sean

    text and email make it easier to communicate with people i wouldnt otherwise call. i dont use it when im physically with other people. for me it only adds, doesnt subtract. not a big deal.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  105. Milind Purandare

    Human beings would eventually forget what it is to interactively communicate with another human being. The cost is severe in terms of emotional unconnectedness.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  106. Collin

    I generally prefer the company of my German Shepard to most humans I know. Not only is she smarter than most of them, she is better company.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  107. Dennis north Carolina

    technology will replace human contact and friendship. we will grow further apart as a society which could make living on earth deadly and dangerous. the human mind needs to think to survive and machines will replace that as a way ti live. welcome to the future!!!!!!!!

    January 3, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
  108. Brian Dagg

    It's the future of our interactions that concern me. We already see a trend of heavy tech use now, but it is becoming more widespread at a such a pace that the common cold is jealous, email sounds slow and news talked about 2 days ago is considered ancient.

    Our personal interactions have officially blended with technology. It won't be long before technology takes over completely. Our children will grow up learning how to use a computer before reading (this may already be happening) and how to use a cellphone before shaking someone's hand. Facebook and Twitter accounts will become mandatory before long too, I bet. True story Jack: A couple we know recently married and became pregnant. They announced their pregnancy on Facebook FIRST before meeting with family and telling them about it in person. Close friends didn't even get a phone call. How's that for being "2.0"?

    January 3, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  109. Mike S.

    I have multiple computers and Blackberries since I am in the IT industry, however, I make it a point to talk with people or see them in person. I agree that for some people technology is replacing personal interaction. Technology has created wonderful gadgets, but you have to know when to put them away. A five minute conversation takes about 2-3 hrs texting. Is this a good use of our time?

    January 3, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  110. Interestedintech

    While I understand, and somewhat agree with the bulk of this article, I think what hasn`t been accurately brought up in this article is the alternative argument. That of how much the wide spread use of technology has benefited the population using it. I think we can all go on for ages discussing the pros and cons of this argument. And I think the only common ground to be had would be moderation. That being said, it is too bad this article didnt include the alternative side to this issue we so we might see both sides of this debate and be able to sound off on both of them in accordance to our own opinions.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  111. OC Cali

    Strange times we are living in. I've worked at my current job for 5 years and have never really met my boss.. There pros and cons for just about everything, but this is truly sad when, not only the average person is wasting 7-9 years of their life watching TV, but also becoming more assimilated by more gadgets... The cost is not worth your life!

    January 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  112. Steven

    I was watching your show on my Iphone while typing this comment This will be short becuase I need to update my status on Facebook from in a relationship to single, I need to let my partner know how I feel so I'll text them before I submit the change.

    Isn't technology cool, as in cold.

    Los Angeles

    January 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  113. Kari

    I totally agree that this is a problem. I am a teacher of young children and they are showing signs of this technological age. They don't have the knowledge of authors and titles or the vocabulary young children used to come to school with. They are much more interested in video games, computers, many have cell phones and their families are also caught up in our wired age which takes time away from human interaction. As a teacher it is difficult to compete. Kids come to school wanting to be entertained, rather than to learn.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  114. Kirk A. Brauch

    Kirk A. Brauch
    Shawano, Wisconsin

    One of the key things we have lost: elegance in our interpersonal communications. We have traded brevity for elocution; quality for quantity. Sure, I can tweet and text and call a bazillion people all day, but what is the quality of that communication? "Communication Truncation" is the way I look at it. When I asked one of my grandkids why they text me instead of calling, the answer was stunning: "I don't need to have a long conversation with you – I just need a question answered".

    We're trying to cram so much into a day – trying to be as efficient as possible with our communication process we are willing to reduce our interactions to the bare minimum necessary so we can achieve more. That's the attitude of a machine – not a person. This the the second and I think more terrifying cost we are paying – our humanity.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  115. Howard Golove

    Right on!!! This past year, I gave up over 40 years as a part-time adjunct faculty member in Communication at a local university because I'd had it over the past 2 years. In my evening course in Business Communications, the focus is on structuring written communication (i.e. memos, business letters, policies/procedures, proposals, etc.). Written and technical delivery was woven in. The quality of the work was ineffective. All young and adult students wanted to do was run out to use their cell phones, text message, and play games on their laptops. They felt I was old fashioned even though the course structure was supported by their $150 textbook. By the way, my evening Public Speaking/Professional Presentations course has cancelled the last 4 years for lack of registration...

    January 3, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  116. HighTech Tom

    Get on board or get out of the way. This question reminds of 1600's, when they told people they were reading and writing too much.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  117. Overby from Melbourne

    Our society has gone nuts....we all have flashlights, but we don't seem to need to take them with us and turn them on and off while we're eating dinner, or seeing a concert, or driving, or even while we're shopping. You can't go anywhere where there isn't some moron on a phone being loud and annoying and bothering everyone around them. It's nuts. Get rid of the phone and get yourself a life.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  118. John

    An article about lossing touch by a guy that lost touch years ago. I would guess that Jack had the same list of complaints when the telephone first came out too.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
  119. becky - Las Vegas

    The cost has been high. We have kids who never learn how to make change, spell without a spell checker or talk to each other in more than 140 characters. It's further making society intellectual idiots - we know how to use technology but take it away and we turn into driveling idiots with absolutely NO social graces.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  120. LR

    It has brought out the most inconsiderate behaviors in people (texting/talking while at dinner at home or in restaurants; texting in movie theaters, where their lighted phones annoy those around them, etc.). The sad thing is, I'm thinking that this will only get worse. This 'continuous partial attention' means that nothing is getting their full attention. They can't even walk down a grocery store aisle while looking where they are going. They must all be really important people who simply cannot be disconnected from the world for more than 15 min. at a time. Pathetic.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  121. Rich McKinney, Texas

    The cost of technology is the inability to think and function without it. s. Don't believe me? Wait until the power goes out when your in a grocery store with a basket full of groceries. Your going no where but home empty handed. Well that is if the doors will open.

    January 3, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  122. KH in OK

    "And that's sad."

    Oh it is not.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  123. Aaron

    A 5 minute or less phone conversation now takes 30 minutes or more via text. It is completely absurd.

    I refuse to participate. If you text me, don't get mad when I don't read the message. If it's important, you had better call. It won't be my fault when whatever it is you wanted does not get done.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  124. Singh

    New Jersey
    While technology IS replacing personal interactions, at least people are able to use say "Face Time" or Video Chatting to interact with people on the other side of the country, or even relatives on the other side of the world if you are a first or second generation American.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  125. Lou Mika

    Jack, I tried to call you to discuss why no one talks with each other anymore but your number isn't listed. Also, your staff would not let me in to speak with you.

    _ Plymouth, MI

    January 3, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  126. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Hi Jack,

    at a great social cost if people do not connect their words with face to face communication and social experiences. But even more than that we have to look at the different changes it creates in the actual process of writing our thinking while using just a few characters : how does that create and build critical thinking if it does not involve people spending more time reading more! Just look at how we are becoming less patient at reading longer articles even on screen! This is a negative effect of technology and the quick chatter boxes...every thing is better in moderation!

    January 3, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
  127. Kate

    I have a Blackberry addiction – this is evidenced by the fact that, while on walks with my dog, she will actually stop walking and turn to face me with that 'I am so disappointed in you' look in her eyes – if she could only put her hands on her hips, tap her foot and shake her head at the same time, she would... The day my blackberry ends up in a slobbery pile of bits and pieces on the floor, will be the day I know she has had enough.... but that probably won't happen, because it never leaves my hip/hand...

    January 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  128. fred figueroa

    you may have it it on the head people text everywhere one guy
    text in front of a urinal and wet his trousers

    if you bring up conversation with them they wake up from their funk

    we should have dead zones like cars,elevators,trains, church, Dr. office

    January 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm |
  129. Michael Schlagle

    The art of personal face to face interaction seems to be going the way of the Edsel and at the same time it is skewing our society and culture in a fashion that leaves each individual more alienated than ever before. We live in virtual worlds, do business in cyber-space, interact in sports with the wave of a wand. No muss, no fuss, a sterile environment where we are limited by merely our imagination and dying battery pack. Create enough avatars and the need for actual human interaction becomes null and void. We could tech ourselves right out of existence and no one will know because we won't know how to do it in person!

    January 3, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  130. lawladoob

    Darn that rock and roll!!

    January 3, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  131. Ana in FL

    Increasingly, self-worth is now measured by how many "friends" or "followers" one has. The word friend is now so ambiguous that it has no value. And the art of meaningful, spontaneous, face-to-face conversation has all but disappeared. And as a parent, I often find myself texting my teens to tell them something, even though they're just a room away. It's the only way to get their attention.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  132. John

    Absolutely people are becoming socially isolated, especially the younger generations. I've seen two teens sitting next to one another, both texting, and neither sharing anything with the other one. The over-prevalence of texting has already destroyed many social skills in the young. If we don't take a step back and, as parents, restrict the texting behavior of our children, we are going to cripple them for a real life.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:11 pm |
  133. Griff

    "Winners? Not the same at the Legion though. My singing on Karaoki is too-good. So my popularity isn`t that good. But I will keep my voice, where as Barack Obama will lose by the seat of his pants,`

    January 3, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  134. Randy Martin

    There is nothing that irks me more than to see people who are out to dinner and are talking on their cell phones. It is extremely rude to the people you are suppose to be spending time with. With the convenience
    a cell phone offers people seem to think that they MUST take or place a call right then, at that very moment. People on the other end of the cell phone line can wait. Give the attention to the people that are right in front of you. Thats what we used to do before cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, etc. took over our lives. Many is the time I have seen a person at a dinner table eating by themselves while the person they are suppose to be spending time with is jabbering or texting away on their phone.
    Sad I say, sad.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  135. Ian

    Technology I think, has deprived us, of our most basic, fundamental characteristic; the ability to be sociable. People can now communicate with one another, behind a screen, without ever uttering a single word, or feeling any sort of real connection.

    Yet we call it social networking.

    Similarly, the rising trend in "Cyber-bullying" points out that because of this ability to communicate easily with others, it makes it far more easy for people to get away with almost anything. The group "Anonymous", an online entity with literally no form of identification, is a prime example of this.

    So at what cost has technology replaced personal freedoms?
    The cost is a portion of your humanity.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
  136. Larry

    Assuming you are not spending your rent & grocery money on a smartphone and service plan, the cost in dollars is insignificant compared to social impact. For all its good, this technology enables conduct of a password protected secret lifestyle the dishonest and deceitful are reveling in. Yes, they've got their heads in the screen instead of looking and talking with the person accross the table but they've also got that screen hugged up close to their chest so nobody can see what they are texting about.

    Loudoun County, Virginia

    January 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  137. tenorlord

    Texting forces you to corral your thoughts and express yourself more clearly than just mouthing off. Besides, what's so special about the people in the same room as you? If you don't know them, you shouldn't be staring at them anyway. Primates always interpret that as hostile.
    Texting allows you to stay in touch with people you DO know, so what's so impersonal about that? I'd say we've increased our interpersonal interactions due to technology.

    Fresno, CA

    January 3, 2011 at 6:14 pm |
  138. Eardley Ham Woodbury, MN

    You and I both are old enough to remember life without cell phones and e-mail. We not only survived this terrible state of no electronic jabber machines, you at least prospered.

    I could easily, even thankfully, return to those laid-back days of the 50s where we talked, wrote notes and letters, read real paper books, and fixed our own cars that burned $0.25/gal gas.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
  139. Susan from Idaho

    It's a four letter word, Hugs.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:16 pm |
  140. Woody Brown

    After the answering-machine came-out, it became an indicator of a relatively full or empty social life. This was a private thing, at home, discovering that nobody or everybody had telephoned.

    The cell-phone has moved this gague of popularity into the public arena. People want to be seen with their cells out, texting and otherwise engaged from their immediate surroundings. To be involved in one's physical location today is a sign of a poor social and/or professional life.

    Today, only losers sit over coffee having an uninterrupted conversation.

    Woody Brown

    January 3, 2011 at 6:17 pm |
  141. Elizabeth

    When i was out to dinner the other night, there was a couple sitting across from us. The guy tried talking with the woman about 4 times that I saw, but she was too busy texting on her Blackberry. It is just RUDE! We are so disconnected.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  142. ellen

    The youth of the world have become so desensitized to human interaction they can barely look at each other, nevertheless an adult; so sad

    January 3, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  143. Xander

    Welcome to the new world Jack, communication changes. People associate now with more people then they did in past times. It is not necessary to have a "face to face" over everything anymore. If anything the new age of technological communication shows how well people can multi-task. Out with the old in with the new.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  144. Jay Morin

    At what cost? Lives are lost every day due to people texting/talking on the phones while driving!

    Enough is enough.

    Lauderhill, FL

    January 3, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  145. Jimmy Marshall

    Without the technology thats being slandered on this forum, this forum would not exist!

    January 3, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  146. john brown

    why make this government son terrible and your don't doing something about it.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  147. meredith price (mr.)

    Jack: When I go over to babysot my 10$13 year olds, the 10 year old is glued to a computer ganme killing people. Tne 13 year old is playing Wi. I might as well be a painting on the wall.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  148. Chuck Gramberg

    I find it ironic I have to answer this question online.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  149. Charlie


    I recommend you watch a speech delivered by Howard W. Buffett (Warren's grandson) at the UN-Mashable Social Good Summit on this very topic. It was very moving.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  150. shannon

    I think its funny you're doing a report on this and asking us all to text our answer in. Gotta laugh.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  151. Angela, NC

    Maybe I should try texting to my daughter- in- law, I may have more luck!

    January 3, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
  152. Greg

    At what cost has technology replaced personal interactions?

    Maybe I'll log in to find out....... 🙂

    January 3, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  153. Adria

    As a working woman: a wife, mother, sister, friend, daughter, and associate I must say that cell phones have added yet another role to my life and I sometimes feel sufficated. The pressure to respond so quickly to so many people is often impossible.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  154. Abby

    It's truly a double-edged sword: technology has replaced face-to-face interpersonal communication but it has also progressed our world so much in the sense that we can connect with anyone anywhere we are. We haven't stopped talking to everyone; we've just stopped physically speaking. We now talk with our fingers instead of our mouths...

    January 3, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  155. C.G. Bateman

    Jack, I am a published Canadian Poet and actucally wrote on this subject almost two years ago, and now it seems to be popping up everywhere. You can read the poem "New Man in New York" at my blog, http://libraryatalexandria.blogspot.com/

    You do a great job of confronting important issues Jack, thanks for the refreshing reports.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
  156. Katja in Tampa, Florida

    As a university senior at the age of 47, I thought I was pretty darn cool to able able to walk and text, just like the "kids". Then it occured to me, that I don't need to be like them. I love to talk to people face to face. People don't actually speak to each other anymore. Conversation has become a lost form of communication. I find myself leaving the phone off or at home most of the time.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  157. Stephanie Dudley

    Well said, I have this conversation in my salon all the time. I have a college age student who luckily has great human interaction. I often warn her that many of her classmates or friends have difficulty looking at people when they speak. Even people they have known all their lives, because they are used to talking to them on a screen or text messaging.Parents need to know when to unplug everything. No tv's in your bedrooms, eat together at a table! Engage. i love the technology, but in person is always better. Love your editorials

    January 3, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  158. Demarcus from Tennessee

    Jack, I do not have a problem with technology. Indeed, I embrace it! However, I believe the human animal's capacity toward rich and complex socialization through verbal and non-verbal face-to-face interactions has been diminished by our advance telecommunication technologies. If this trait is eliminated altogether from our species, I fear terrible things for humankind.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  159. Dan

    Think of it as the return of the era of letter-writing, you know, before the telephone was invented: you may remember the era. John and Abigail Adams wrote over 1,100 letters to each other.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  160. Chris

    In recent years, the disconnect and lack of social interaction between people is pathetic due to the increased use of cell phones or PDA's. Pretty soon we will all turn into robots becoming totally dependent on them for any type of "human" interaction!

    January 3, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  161. Troy Gardner - Fort Worth TX

    Technology has definately replaced social interaction. We have lost touch with humanity. Texing has been the new form of communication Mispelled words and improper grammar is now ok. . Before it is all said and done, we will be a bunch of stiff aliens with wireless gadgets.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  162. Craig from Mentor, Ohio

    I'm sorry Jack, could you text me that question?

    January 3, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
  163. Paula

    Well Jack, I am sitting in my living room with my PC in my lap, my galaxy tab on and ready, watching CNN on TV, and my husband by my side with his itouch checking the sports update. Both of us are happy as larks...any other questions?

    January 3, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  164. S. Taylor - Pittsburgh, PA

    One thing technology has cost us is CUSTOMER SERVICE! It's a lost art. There's no such thing anymore as getting a real person on the phone of a business. You get to pick 2 options, which then has 4 options, which then has 7 options. And then finally ... you get back to the first option you picked in the first place.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
  165. Joe

    Jack, I refuse to email a response to your question. I'm trying not to use technology! I will mail you a letter tomorrow!

    January 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  166. a wife and mother

    It's wrong when someone thinks a Facebook message is considered making contact.

    It's wrong when people think they can be on the phone and completely ignore the cashier or pharmacy clerk. Actually the pharmacy where my husband works has a sign saying to complete calls before stepping to the window. They've had to tell people to hang up or step away from the window. If you're receiving a service, the least you can do is give your attention to and acknowledge the person providing it.

    It's wrong when someone interrupts a conversation with someone in front of them to take a call (unless it's an emergency).

    I could go on. And yes, I have a cell phone and do text occaisionally.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  167. Melissa B

    It's sad that people cannot carry on a conversation even with their own family members, or strangers. People are so overloaded with technology and information, that they lost their capabilities to function and act in a socially acceptable manner, and communicate with family, friends, strangers, and potential job opportunities. Family values and morals are being swept aside, and there feels like there is many more people with crippling social anxiety, and diagnosed with disorders. All these kids really needs is to get away from the computers, tv, ipods, etc..., and have it replaced by spending time with their parents, siblings and friends and keeping things like open recess around to enforce social buildings skills (not built programs designed by schools).

    My parents worked full time, but I can still say I have been socially conditioned. I can start and open conversation with strangers, and make acquaintances in almost any place I go. It's not magic, it's just opening your mouth.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  168. Ulysses in California

    Jack...seriously???? Why don't we ask about how the invention of the microwave made the sit down family dinner a thing of the past. Before we criticize how today's technology has caused social interactions to suffer, let's not forget that yesterday's innovations have created a detriment to our society before we've even walked out our front doors.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  169. Michael Elkins Park Pa

    I guess I'm showing my age but I still remember when computers and technogy in general were supposed to save us so much free time that we'd be able to do all the things we were wishing we could do. Turns out the extra time technology gave us is now used up with more newer technology.
    It's made people so self absorbed that they have to "tweet" when they go to the bathroom. I worry about where this is all going. The images from Walle keep appearing in my head where humans are so lethargic that they could no longer walk. Hope I'm overreacting!

    January 3, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  170. Noibs Guy

    People interacted with other people in the past because it was necessary and there was no substitute.

    Honestly...how many people can claim to enjoy interacting with random people, co-workers, sales clerks, etc? I enjoy talking with my family and my friends. Period. Obviously, we have to talk with others as part of society and part of our jobs, but it's not something I prefer to do.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  171. Chris

    GET A LIFE, seriously.......get off your phone and have a face to face conversation!!

    January 3, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
  172. Chris 1982

    Jack, I am considered a 'Gen Xer' and use technology every day. My career is in the information technology space. Technology is at the forefront of my business, financial, social and yes, sometimes personal interactions. As to whether technology replaces personal interactions, to some degree, it will. As for the cost, I leave it up to parents to teach these good old 'fashion tips to their kids who will inevitably be growing up in the digital age. Eye contact, communication and personal social interaction will always be important. Adaptation will undeniably succeed.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  173. Randy Mellen

    In all things I try to keep and see a balance. The positive as well as the negative. Cell phones are very useful and necessary in times of a crisis or an emergency. However, when some laws are created and passed to protect us from our own behaviors; I feel that cell phones, Blackberrys, and other such devices have become a danger to us and are creating an "Isolation Generation." Community appears to be moving up on the endangered species list. All of this technology is not only keeping people at home, but isolating individuals from their families within their own home. People can work order items and pay bills on-line. From the automatic garage door opener to the privacy fence in the backyard, and everything in between, can keep us in isolation and seclusion if we allow it. Who is my neighbor? What must we separate ourselves from to discover who our neighbor is? Are we addicted to cell phones and technology? Is electronic therapy in our future?
    Randy Mellen, Jacksonville, Alabama

    January 3, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  174. Ken in NC

    My wife gave me a Blackberry. Now with her back at home with her mother we argue via Blackberry and when I have herd enough, I simply turn her off. Cheaper than a divorce.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  175. Clifton

    Jack, Believe this or not:

    It has destroyed communication and personal interaction skills: A girl and her boy friend was lying on the bed talking to each other, she sent him a text; "You're broke and I am broke, we both can't be in this house, you have to go" the man was so hurt he showed everyone the text.

    I was at a party hundreds of people was there almost everybody was on their phone their were no social interaction, this is crazy.



    January 3, 2011 at 6:33 pm |
  176. Jonny L

    In 1986, a UCLA professor commented that sunglasses and the Walkman were killing interpersonal and in-person skills.With the Internet and gaming, zoning out and not participating in real life seems to be the new living–a virtual life.

    Kids don't know how to run anymore, as reported by the major news media. They have the running form of toddlers and gasp for air after 100 meters. I think it is sad.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  177. Joseph

    I think every generation has lamented that their children and grandchildren lack civility, work ethic and critical thinking skills. Technology is simply the latest excuse for the older generation to consider themselves superior to the young'uns.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  178. Sam Mason

    I was thinking about this very thing today. Theoretically, I do not have to leave my bedroom. I have my 42 inch hi-def, my laptop, my ipad, my cell phone, a printer, digital video recorder, landline and my dog. If I could figure a way to install a refrigerator and toilet, nobody would ever see me again. (my ex would like that).
    London ON Canada

    January 3, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
  179. Bob


    This is a very interesting question but not necessarily timely. Marshall McLuhan, a famous Canadian philosopher once said to the effect; "As I gaze down and look from Sea to Shining Sea sitting on a perch above the Great Lakes, I see a people glued to their television to obtain all the communication necessary to fulfill their life expectations".

    What he meant by that, so many years ago, that american had forsaken personal communication for the great technology of the day, television. He would not be surprised at all by the rapid entropy that we have moved ourselves into this second year of the second decade of the 21st century.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  180. Sean from Maine

    Jack, I'm considering going to medical school to become a hand surgeon. I figure that with all these mindless teenagers constantly texting, carpal tunnel surgery will be the biggest growth industry in the coming decades.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  181. Karl in Flint

    Drunk driving is going to be paled by cell phone and texting traffic deaths. We are already over the top in road rage assaults. We are becoming techno-zombies. Sad.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  182. Karisma Solis

    Hello Jack my name is Karisma and I am a 17 year old female living in Seattle, Wa. I believe that the fast paced techonology growth within the last decade or so has effected youth all over America, making such an influence that has effects worldwide. Being a teenager in America is more complicated as our youth is focused on instant self gratification. Younger generations are becoming highly focused on spending more than half their time while conscious looking at screens, thus they identify themselves with the cyber world instead of physical experiences. For young females, without parental guidance or supervision over how much time is spent on social activities, they tend to feed into meaningless drama via internet that is uncessary. It is causing my generation to be "dumbed down" while constantly subcosnciously being advertised to through the internet & also focusing on things that are much less important than education & life experiences. It is appauling.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  183. HURRICANEPAUL from Hawaii

    Jack, with the capabilities these "new tecnoogies" have of capturing video clips on your cellphone and then immediately uploading them to YouTube, the dictator's of the world, and your common street thugs, are not sleeping as soundly as they used to.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:44 pm |
  184. rita wechter

    People who choose to spend time with me will not have to compete with technology.
    I never have my phone turned on when I'm with other people and so I'm 100% "with" them. However, they are not 100% with me!
    Many of the people I spend time with are constantly checking or answering their text/voice messages or emails, or they are looking up something on their phones.
    As a consequence I feel as though I'm choosing to really be with them but they are not choosing to really be with me. It's kind of sad.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:45 pm |
  185. jim - georgia

    Jack – Cell phones, iphones, e-books are having a detrimental affect on young people. I have two daughters with advanced degrees in education (teaching AP Science courses) and they will not allow their own kids to own these gadgets because they see the daily affect they have on students. They contend that kids are losing their abilities to verbally communicate, spell and think. They say texting is destroying the English Language. One of my daughters was selected teacher of the year from one of the top 10 school systems in the U. S. while parents compete every year trying to get their kids in my other daughter's classes. Go figure.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:46 pm |
  186. Mike

    I agree with your comments. The most important parts of any business are its human resources. With the lack of personal communication skills whether in the "interviewer or the interviewee", both the business and the person seeking employment will suffer. An ability to personally communicate, look me straight in the eye both honestly and convincingly, and afterward to give me an honest hand shake will then ratify a good resume. Without it, the resume goes in the scrap heap.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  187. Ron (Denver)

    USA Today is quite a bit slow on this one. This has been the defacto standard in the tech field for years.

    People were very quick to go after technical splutions to time management problems without understanding all the risks that go with them (privacy) and what the lack of social skills can do to harm overall communication.

    Even worse – many people use these forms of interaction as a way to C.Y.A. in the workplace. It is all laughable. I do everything in my power tto actually speak with the people I need to interact with (yikes – what is your phone number?).

    January 3, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  188. Lynne Perry

    I've seen families fall apart, marriages break up, children following corrupt paths – all due to the "relationships" people are building with people they've never met in person. Real life relationships are being left behind in favor of establishing technical relationships. Technical relationships are "safer" in the sense that while it is easier and faster to meet and chat with people. They are more dangerous because that actual true knowledge of a person that grows over time by being in their presence physically and in different situations is lost.

    Technology is the dehumanization of society. Technology is virtual cocaine.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  189. Marcia Greenwood, IN

    And when did it become OK to make and receive phone calls in public bathrooms.? I work in an office and hear other peoples calls in the bathroom daily

    January 3, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  190. Frances Robinson, ABQ, NM

    I sent my oldest grandson a nice monetary HS graduation gift. He sent me an e-mail thank you. Even a phone call would have been better. This new technology - it's destroying relationships.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
  191. Henri D. Kahn

    When a chameleon encourages people to maybe save 15% on an auto insurance premium and you converse and inform via facebook and twitter and declare your feeing on a blog.
    The only thing left is nothing but Loneliness!
    Its a sad state of affairs.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:58 pm |
  192. Wade in Las Vegas, Nevada

    Us good parents will use this as a strategic advantage for our kids.

    January 3, 2011 at 6:59 pm |