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The Connection Gap: Why Americans Feel so Alone Hardcover – July 15, 2001

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In one of the most thoughtful of the recent spate of books on the disheartening relationship between technology, consumerism and community (e.g., Cass Sunstein's Republic.com and Richard DeGrandpre's Digitopia), Boston Globe journalist Pappano examines our market-driven desire to have it all faster, bigger and better. Among her central observations: that people are encouraged to be consumers above all, developing "relationships" with familiar brands, and that we have learned to evaluate our personal lives in terms of cost-benefit analyses thinking about friendships in light of what we've invested and earned, looking for love in the classified ads. What separates this book from the pack is Pappano's careful examination of our changing feelings about technology and emotional connection. Pointing to 1950s magazines, she reveals that TV was first marketed as something that would draw families together and stimulate conversation, and that long-distance calls were touted as being "almost like a visit." (Little did we know, Pappano writes, that we'd end up passively watching TV and using Caller ID to screen people out.) Unafraid to introduce observations that might challenge her argument, Pappano notes that TV is "the only reliable common language, reference, and activity Americans participate in together." Similarly, in her fascinating critique of planned smalltown communities (such as Disney's Celebration, Fla.), she wonders if it's possible that urban design actually might change behavior. (July)Forecast: Though it may languish if shelved next to James Gleick's heavily publicized Faster, Pappano's book will appeal to readers interested in an engaging and intelligent rant against the unnecessary "necessities" of modern life.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

In one of the most thoughtful of the recent spate of books on the disheartening relationship between technology, consumerism and community, Boston Globe journalist Pappano examines our market-driven desire to have it allùfaster, bigger and better. Among her central observations: that people are encouraged to be consumers above all, developing ærelationshipsæ with familiar brands, and that we have learned to evaluate our personal lives in terms of cost-benefit analysisùthinking about friendships in light of what weæve invested and earned, looking for love in the classified ads. What separates this book from the pack is Pappanoæs careful examination of our changing feelings about technology and emotional connection. . . . Pappanoæs book will appeal to readers interested in an engaging and intelligent rant against the unnecessary ænecessitiesæ of modern life.
(Publishers Weekly)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Rutgers University Press; First Edition edition (July 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813529794
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813529790
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,400,527 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Hefele on August 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This was a good, insightful book. Pappano unites many small, seemingly disparate observations about modern living by showing how our lives are requiring less and less interactions with other people. The result is that we're creating a "connection gap," where we fail to truly connect in a meaningful way with others. Also, we've moved from a society with an emphasis on the group and responsibility to others, to one where the central figure is the self. Throughout the book, Pappano supplements her own observations with reams of statistics and numerous references, and in the end, I found the result thorough and insightful. The only complaint I have is that Papanno's theme was somewhat repetitive at points.
Here is a sampling of the examples that Papanno uses to support her thesis that modern requires less interactions with other people, thus creating a "connection gap:"
Our homes are also becoming small fortresses -- we increasingly use Caller-ID to screen our calls, install home security systems or live in gated communities, and don't even live in houses with porches anymore. Why would you? All the action is on the inside of the house. Also, new homes have grown larger -- the average square footage for new houses has gone up by 41% over past 30 years. Now-days, each person can retreat to their own nook in the house, rather than watching the family TV with each other, or lingering in the same rooms. Bathrooms have grown more luxurious, and we retreat into these private spas to relax alone. Kitchens are larger, too, but people families are more likely to be eating alone sequentially, rather than having the whole family sit down together for a meal & talking about the events of the day.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 26, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Through thorough research and keen perception, Laura Pappano describes the exact quality of disconnection that characterizes our 21st-century world. "The Connection Gap" contains no shortage of "eureka" moments, as Pappano again and again captures the paradox of a life made both easier and more isolating by technology. With our days now devoted to shopping, staring at TV and computer screens, talking on cell phones, and driving everywhere, we have little time left for the deeper communication human beings thrive on. And while most of us have sensed that something is missing, we've been too busy to go looking for it. What a relief, then, to arrive at this thoughtful book.
Pappano brings a broad and diffuse subject to vivid life by tracing the changing style of day-to-day living from the early 20th century to today. Aside from the hard statistics that support her argument, Pappano's interviews with the likes of personal shoppers, her readiness to share anecdotes about her family, and her range of background materials from popular magazines to scholarly texts all illustrate the many ways in which Americans have lost touch.
Most of us will see ourselves in this book; reading it is a first step toward reconnecting.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is one of those rare books you wish everyone would read. Americans have greatly benefited from advances in technology and an improved standard of living, but at the same time we have let our sense of community and ties to others erode. Laura Pappano addresses the many ways this occurs and offers suggestions for bucking the trend. Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
Nice transaction! Thank you!
Good delivery time.
The book was in the same shape as mentioned.
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