This wide-ranging account of our emotional responses to technologies, from the telegram to Instagram, shows that technology changes not only how we feel, but what our feelings mean.
Facebook makes us lonely. Selfies breed narcissism. On Twitter and comment boards, hostility reigns. Pundits and psychologists warn us that digital technologies substantially alter our emotional states. But in this lively and surprising account, we learn that technology doesn’t just affect how we feel from moment to moment—it changes profoundly the underlying emotions themselves.
Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid examines nineteenth- and twentieth-century letters, diaries, and memoirs and draws on contemporary research and interviews with Americans of different ages and backgrounds to document how our emotions have been transformed by technological change. Where we now strive to escape boredom, earlier generations saw unstructured time as an opportunity for productivity and creativity. Where loneliness is now pathologized, we once thought of solitude as virtuous. Even as we ask whether technology is making us lonelier, it is altering the meaning of loneliness.
In this timely book, Luke Fernandez and Susan Matt contend that current technology has removed many of the limits on our emotional landscape. Thus we seek to be constantly stimulated, engaged, and validated, while our anger and antisocial impulses are not only unconstrained but affirmed by the digital company we keep.