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( — “Hey, Lynn, I just read about this new device,” I said to a therapist friend who’d come for dinner. “Imagine watching the Olympics or some other big event,” I explained while slicing tomatoes for our salad, “but instead of an old-fashioned remote, you have this gizmo that lets you tell the producer what you want to see, search for information about whatever’s on the screen, and talk to other viewers around the world. It’d be like watching TV, Googling, and tweeting all at once. ”

When I looked up from the chopping board, Lynn was hunched over, hands covering her ears, eyes shut. “Stop!” she begged. “I can’t take any more.”

Lynn’s no Luddite—she’s been e-mailing since the late ’90s. She has a computer and broadband, and spends time on the Internet searching, reading, making purchases, meeting people through dating sites. After a bad breakup, she spent a few months chatting in an online support group. Last year, out of curiosity, she reluctantly joined Facebook.

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