There’s a Jane Austen-ish quality to online social life. The written word gains unmatched power and inarguable primacy. Personal relationships now, to a much greater degree than, say, 30 years ago, hinge on our ability to write — if not necessarily well, in a formal, Strunk and White manner, then at least effectively. This change makes us not disconnected so much as it makes us archaic. Austen’s characters easily expressed extreme emotion in long letters and then in person sat twitchily near one another, paralyzed with manners.

Though our letters are not delivered by servants or horse-drawn carriages, our relationships once again live and die in the texts with which we barter with each other. The internet age unavoidably resembles the 19th century novel’s depiction of human intimacy, as so many of us pour passionate confessions into emails, messages, and chat boxes. Our physical reactions when together are often disguises for what we could so candidly admit in writing.

  1. rachelannette reblogged this from elsi
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    Interesting take on a longstanding and often devastating truth. There’s a Jane Austen-ish quality to online social life....
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    Helena Fitzgerald, “Kissing Is Not the Answer,” The New Inquiry Magazine, No. 3: Arguing the Web
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    1.
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  18. ninastotler reblogged this from thenewinquiry and added:
    Interesting take on a longstanding and often devastating truth.
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  24. elizabethstokkebye reblogged this from thenewinquiry and added:
    so true, about the power of writing as part of our modern on-line social lives:)
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