Continuing in my series about how technology has made the metaphysical become physical, I'm analyzing the first few stanzas of John Donne's poem "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning", and comparing the relationship he has with his wife to relationships in a "post-Facebook" society.
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
"Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."
So let us melt, and make no noise,
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move;
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.
Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears;
Men reckon what it did, and meant:
But trepidation of the spheres;
Though greater far, is innocent"
The interpretation of this is that Donne believed it would discount the deepness of his relationship with his wife if they were overly public or obvious about their sadness in being separated physically. Because their love was so strong, spiritual, and transcendent in nature, he believed that it would be a "profanation" and a debasement to allow it to to be open to public scrutiny.
It's probably safe to say, then, that Donne would be harshly critical of the couple that changes their relationship status weekly or resolves their arguments on the public forum of Facebook. And how would he feel about the couple that is constantly texting-even when they're with each other? (My friend Neal linked me to a great/shocking example of this in a comment on an earlier post of mine.)
The unfortunate fact is that these couples are becoming the norm in our society. This is because technology has created a huge cultural shift in what is acceptable and what is normal to broadcast to the public. Our culture has become preoccupied with self-disclosure, especially online. This has been explored in multiple studies, including this one by the Open University, and what's surprising is that most of them are finding that self-disclosure is good for us. An article in the New York Times entitled "Brave New World of Digital Intimacy" says, "