Video calling may be a relatively new thing, but as Kottke points out, David Foster Wallace explored it in his epic novel Infinite Jest back in 1996.Here's why it failed in that book's world: Good old traditional audio-only phone conversations allowed you to presume that the person on the other end was paying complete attention to you while also permitting you not to have to pay anything even close to complete attention to her.A traditional aural-only conversation [...] let you enter a kind of highway-hypnotic semi-attentive fugue: while conversing, you could look around the room, doodle, fine-groom, peel tiny bits of dead skin away from your cuticles, compose phone-pad haiku, stir things on the stove; you could even carry on a whole separate additional sign-language-and-exaggerated-facial-expression type of conversation with people right there in the room with you, all while seeming to be right there attending closely to the voice on the phone.
Callers now found they had to compose the same sort of earnest, slightly overintense listener's expression they had to compose for in-person exchanges.
Those caller who out of unconscious habit succumbed to fuguelike doodling or pants-crease-adjustment now came off looking extra rude, absentminded, or childishly self-absorbed.
Callers who even more unconsciously blemish-scanned or nostril explored looked up to find horrified expressions on the video-faces at the other end.
Editor’s note: Several years ago, author Meg Wilson had it all.
She was a suburban wife with two daughters, two cars, two pets, and “a firm grasp on the American dream.” Central to everything in her life was a loving and successful husband who loved the Lord.
But her picture-perfect life came crashing down around her when her husband confessed to a decades-long struggle with sexual addiction—a secret life that included infidelity and an obsession with pornography.
As part of her journey through forgiveness and healing, Meg started a support group for women whose husbands struggle with sexual addiction.
Her interactions with the women in those groups as well as her own healing led her to write of her experience Family Life Today. Every man I’ve talked with knows when his sexual addiction started.
For most it began when they were around ten years of age, and they found their father’s stash of pornography.