Talk to your roofer

The New Yorker’s George Packer tells of hiring a roofer, and that roofer’s complaints about a new class of customer who are so immersed in communications technology that they’re mechanically inept and strangely awkward at communicating with him:

“It’s the technology,” the roofer said. “They don’t know how to deal with a human being. They stand there with that text shrug”—he hunched his shoulders, bent his head down, moved from side to side, looking anywhere but at me—“and they go, ‘Ah, ah, um, um,’ and they just mumble. They can’t talk any more.” This inadequacy with physical space and direct interaction was an affliction of the educated, he said—“the more educated, the worse.” His poorer black customers in Bedford-Stuyvesant had no such problem, and he was much happier working on their roofs, but the recession had slowed things down there and these days he was forced to deal almost entirely with the cognitively damaged educated and professional classes….

This was a completely new phenomenon in the roofer’s world: a mass upper class that was so immersed in symbolic and digital cerebration that it had become incapable of carrying out the most ordinary functions—had become, in effect, like small children with Asperger’s symptoms. It was a ruling class that, out of sheer over-civilization, was quickly losing the ability to hold onto its power.

For the record, I’ve never owned real estate and as such have never had to hire a roofer, but I know how to use a drill and have put up drywall.

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Tagged: tech, class

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