Old media’s immutable dread of new communications technologies

In a prescient book published a quarter century ago, when few people had heard of the internet, Carolyn Marvin, a professor of communications at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, catalogued the fear and loathing with which newspapers greeted the advent of the telegraph and the telephone. High on the list of perceived horrors was the inevitable moral degradation of women.

Old media are still at it, constantly warning us to be very afraid of the perils lurking in the internet, computers, smart phones, cell phones, etc.

The magazine Pacific Standard gamely took note of this handwringing today with an article celebrating the 40th birthday of the first cell phone (see image at right).


Is your cell phone…

Killing you?
Spying on you?
Making you sick?
Giving you a brain tumor?
Driving you crazy?
Making you a jerk?
Making you into a terrible person?
Posing a flu risk?
Cooking your brain?
Damaging your baby’s brain?
Keeping you up at night?
Hurting your children?
Stealing your life force?
Making your face sag?
Zapping your thyroid?
Getting between you and your Valentine?
Ruining your relationship?
Giving you hemorrhoids?
Not actually a cell phone and actually a cook book?
Listening in on you?
Violating your rights?
Your best friend?
Hitting you below the belt?
Due for an antivirus shot?
Fueling rape and murder in the Congo?

A person just can’t be too careful.