John Naisbitt first developed the concept of high tech, high touch in his 1982 bestseller Megatrends. He theorized that in a world of technology, people long for personal, human contact.
Naisbitt re-examines this idea in his latest book, High Tech/High Touch.
What an appropriate time to be checking our technological pulse, an age when most everyone is wired with pagers, cell phones, e-mail, voice mail, and faxes. Ê High Tech/High Touch states its premise up front: The two biggest markets in the United States are consumer technology and escape from consumer technology. It then proceeds to chronicle the advancement of technology in our lives, the dangers it imposes, and our instinct to both embrace and escape it.
The authors gathered their research by culling thousands of newspaper articles and interviewing dozens of experts in science, medicine, sociology, psychology, education, business, and theology. They seek to pinpoint where we are today, and provide us with a roadmap for the future. They place us in what they call a Technologically Intoxicated Zone, a netherworld where we are bombarded with technological stimuli. Here is their partial list of the symptoms: we fear and worship technology; we blur the distinction between real and fake; we accept violence as normal; and we live our lives distanced and distracted.
And how do we struggle to bring the high touch back into our lives? According to the authors, we seek meaning through religion; we buy self-help books; we pop Prozac, Viagra, and other supplements; we seek a tangential connection to nature by driving sports utility vehicles and buying clothes from L.
There are no surprising revelations in High Tech/High Touch. Every trend and development outlined seems obvious. And the authors offer no unique answers to save us from our technological overload. Their solutions are simple: pull the plug on the computer and TV, turn off the cell phone and beeper, and spend more time with family and friends.
The book isn't so much a crystal ball as it is a mirror, allowing us to reflect and leaving us to decide whether there is too much high technology and too little humanness in our lives. ¦John T. Slania is a freelance writer and journalism professor in Chicago.