Living with distraction: a rejoinder to Louis C.K.
Over the last few days I’ve rewatched Louis C.K.‘s Conan clip several times and talked of it with anyone who will listen. His point of departure is the case for denying his children smartphones, but he soon dwells on a much more disturbing subject, namely the threat that continuous connectivity poses for selfhood.
The bit is funny because, like pretty much all good standup, it is at once patently obvious and painfully true: solitude is a challenging experience and we’re hopeless at turning down an opportunity to feel part of the human community. Even if the gesture of inclusion is shallow and short-lived, like a text message, we spring for it instinctively.
What’s really interesting here (and probably the source of the routine’s comic weight) is that he’s willing to go out and admit that a text message from a friend momentarily resolves the existential anxiety he
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