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大学英语四级美文欣赏:互联网让我们不再交谈?

时间:2018-07-12 15:42 点击:
2012年6月大学英语四级考试临近,备考过程中不妨看一看大学英语四级美文,提高语感和阅读速度。

  >>最新2012年6月全国英语四六级考试试题及答案完整汇总 

大学英语四级美文欣赏:互联网让我们不再交谈?

 

  >>北京新东方四六级名师考后第一时间解析试题  <视频>

  As our meeting places fall silent, save for tapping on screens, it seems we have mistaken ubiquitousconnection for the real thing.

  I first noticed it in a restaurant. The place was strangely quiet, and at one table a group seemed deep in prayer. Their heads were bowed, their eyes hoodedand their hands in their laps. I then realised that every one, young and old, was gazing at a handheld phone. People strolledthe street outside likewise, with arms crooked at right angles, necks bent and heads in potentially crippling postures. Mothers with babies were doing it. Students in groups were doing it. They were like zombies on call. There was no conversation.

  Every visit to California convinces me that the digital revolution is over, by which I mean it is won. Everyone is connected. The New York Times last week declared the death of conversation. While mobile phones may at last be falling victim to etiquette, this is largely because even talk is considered too intimatea contact. No such bar applies to emailing, texting, messaging, posting and tweeting. It is ubiquitous, the ultimate connectivity, the brain wired full-time to infinity.

  The MIT professor and psychologist Sherry Turkle claims that her students are close to mastering the art of sustaining eye contact with a person while texting someone else. It is like an organist playing different tunes with hands and feet. To Turkle, these people are "alone together …a tribe of one". Anyone with 3,000 Facebook friends has none.

  The audience in a New York theatre now sit, row on row, with lit machines in their laps, looking to the stage occasionally but mostly scrolling and tapping away. The same happens at meetings and lectures, in coffee bars and on jogging tracks. Children are apparently developing a dexterityin their thumbs unknown since the evolution of the giant sloth. Talk is reduced to the muttered, heads-down expletives brilliantly satirisedin the BBC's Twenty Twelve.

  Psychologists have identified this as "fear of conversation". People wear headphones as "conversational avoidance devices". The internet connects us to the entire world, but it is a world bespoke, edited, deleted, sanitised. Doubt and debate become trivial because every statement can be instantly verified or denied by Google. There is no time for the thesis, antithesis, synthesis of Socratic dialogue, the skeleton of true conversation.

  There is now apparently a booming demand for online "conversation" with robots and artificialvoices. Mobiles come loaded with customised "girlfriends". People turn to computerised dating advisers, even claim to fall in love with their on-board GPS guides. A robot seal can be bought to sit and listen to elderly people talk, tiltingits head and blinking in sympathy.

  We have, says Turkle, confused connection with conversation – "the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship". Human friendship is rich, messy and complicated. It requires patience and tolerance, even compromise. As we push other people off into a world of question and answer, connection and information, friendship becomes ersatz virtuality.

  In his history of conversation, Stephen Miller points out that "most Americans are nowadays concerned more with improving their sex life than their conversation life". Even the phone is pass. Those who used to call a friend in trouble now send a text. Phone calls are to register urgency or shout anger, with corresponding loss of nuanceand sensibility. From Mailer to Eminem, the modern cultural hero is expressionist. He or she has "attitude", and to prove it uses the F-word as often as possible.

  Miller notes that public discourse is dominated by contention, by "intersecting monologues". Anger, lack of inhibition, "letting it all hang out" are treated as assets in public debate, in place of a willingness to listen and adjust one's point of view. Politics thus becomes a platform of rival angers. American politicians are ever more polarised, reduced to conveying a genuine hate for each other.

  Likewise, the lack of tolerance in American Christianity can be as frightening as it can in Islam. When I once professed support for IVF, a man glared across the table, tight-jawed, and asked: "What does it feel like to be a mass murderer?" With such people there is no conversation, only a tiptoeing from the room.

  All that said, the death of conversation has been announced as often as that of the book. Samuel Johnson and David Hume worried that the decline of political conversation would lead to violent civil discord. George Orwell concluded that "the trend of the age was away from creative communalamusements and toward solitary mechanical ones". The philosopher Michael Oakeshott professed himself desperate to "rescue the art of conversation". Somehow we have muddled through.

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