Keller @ Large: Is Technology Pushing Away Social Venues And Interactions?

BOSTON (CBS) – According to an article yesterday in USA Today you can add the neighborhood tavern to the fast-growing list of places and ways in which we once used to connect with one another that are vanishing.

Listen to Jon’s commentary:

According to the piece, as recently as 1990, there were about 3,300 tavern licenses in Chicago; now, it’s down to 1,200.

It’s not about the booze.

There are more places than ever where you can get that, and complaints about drunkenness were among the reasons why Chicago started cracking down on taverns.

But a local history professor tells USA Today that the old-fashioned taverns, where your IOU was good and, if you’ll pardon the expression, everybody knew your name, fostered “a degree of camaraderie…and a sense of neighborliness” in a way that newer bars don’t.

“The social bonds that evolved,” he says, “were quite enduring.”

Meanwhile, I noticed with interest a recent TV ad sponsored by the US Postal Service making the case for the superiority of regular old snail mail over e-mail.

That seems like a losing battle, but if you have box in your closet with postcard from long-lost relatives or an old love letter or two, perhaps you can appreciate the difference between that and an e-mail.

I always worry when I bring this up that I’m turning into a cliché, the aging crank bemoaning the loss of the “good old days” and the takeover of “newfangled” technology and customs.

Things change, that’s the way it is, I get that.

But I honestly feel like it’s worth pausing to reflect on the social venues and interactions that are being left on the discard pile by technology on the march.

And the wonders of Facebook notwithstanding, ask yourself – is our culture becoming friendlier, more closely knit, more personal and human?

Or is change changing us into something less than the sum of our parts?

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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