Human experience in the digital age: conversation, relationships and social connection


‘Only connect,’ said E M Forster. Could Mr Forster have envisaged a world in which one person connected with another, thousands of miles away, through free video and voice calls, instant messages and file sharing, via a computer and broadband internet connection? Humans are now so freely connected through computers as to cause consternation to governments like those of Russia and China.

Skype is on a mission to ‘enable the world’s conversations,’ says its President, Josh Silverman. ‘Allowing the world to communicate for free empowers and links people and communities everywhere,’ he believes. The etymology of the word ‘conversation’ is ‘act of living with’, or ‘to live with, keep company with’.

But does virtual communication improve or impair that capacity for good human connection? How are conversations and thus relationships and identities changing in the digital age, as so many of us now have online presences? Visiting from the UK for the Emerging Writers’ Festival, Anita Sethi ponders these questions and more.


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