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Intimacy in the Digital Age: Love and Friendship in the Age of Remote Contact

January 10, 2021 @ 10:15 AM 11:30 AM

Dr. Stephen Asma, Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Columbia College Chicago, will speak on the topic, Intimacy in the Digital Age: Love and Friendship in the Age of Remote Contact.  Around 2005, people reported that the average number of their strong friendships had dropped from three to two.  In a more recent study, 25 percent of respondents said they didn’t have anyone they could truly trust.  More recent research suggests that these trends are persisting and increasing.  The loss of intimacy, however, does not seem to be a concern among the young people actually growing up online; they report feeling socially supported by large networks of online “friends” whom they rarely or never see face-to-face.  Getting “likes” and other forms of digital grooming from larger audiences validates their repeated self-disclosures.  But do these young people even know what they are missing? And does it matter?  Social isolation has certainly increased in Japan, where half a million young people live as “hikikomori” — recluses who don’t leave their homes. And loneliness in Britain has increased enough that the government has created a “minister for loneliness.”  Dr. Stephen Asma will discuss the dangers of digital life for human social life, but also some of the underappreciated values of online friendship.

Stephen Asma is the author of ten books, including The Evolution of Imagination (University of Chicago Press, 2017), The Evolution of Emotion: Affective Roots of Culture and Cognition with Rami Gabriel (Harvard University Press, forthcoming), On Monsters: an Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears (Oxford University Press), and The Gods Drink Whiskey (HarperOne).  He writes regularly for the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Skeptic magazine, and Aeon.  He has been an invited lecturer at Harvard University, Brown University, the Field Museum, the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, University of Macau, Aarhus University Denmark, and many more.

After services, from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM, we will open Zoom for informal general discussion, as well as an opportunity to join a conversation group with Dr. Stephen Asma.

Please note: this service will be hosted via Zoom. Subscribe to our Sunday service mailing list below to get this service’s Zoom information. We will send you an email one week prior.

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