Called the Public Isolation Project, a woman is living alone in a glass room, located at bside6 in downtown Portland, Oregon. The woman, Cristin Norine, will be physically isolated from others for a full month, communicating with the outside world only via the internet and other modern technologies. She is examining the modern way we communicate via social networking and cell phones, and wondering if these modern forms of communicating with others could replace in-person interaction? 

Norine’s “art work” is being titled, The Future of Socializing. The website notes: “An analog analogy of the contemporary experience of living in the Internet age, Cristin Norine will spend one month living within the confines of the bSIDE6 Gallery


—in total view from the gallery’s windows. Her isolation will be alleviated solely by digital interactions with the outside world. Viewers of the piece will reflect on their own expanded accessibility that technology has brought them.”   

She explains, “Technologies like social media and smart phones make it easier to correspond with others more frequently, but could these forms of communication replace analog interactions completely?” Her communication restrictions “will allow her to explore this idea and determine how it affects her physically and emotionally.”

I find this a fascinating topic and it fits in perfectly for the Media Analysis and Introduction to Communication courses I am teaching at Multnomah University this semester. In my classes, we have discussed modern technology “famines” where people have given up the internet or cell phones for a period of time; we’ve analyzed the impact that has had on their lives. But I have not seen the opposite — where someone is using online means of communication exclusively for a period of time.

The reality of addiction to  modern technology has been the subject of this blog as well as articles for The Oregonian. Adults are attached to their cell phones and Facebook as much as kids are, only in different ways. I have seen parents talking on the phone at cafes or in their cars while their children sit there alone. The etiquette issue is everywhere. You see people texting during movies and hear of others checking Facebook every five minutes, during dinner. Internet and cell phones and other modern technology have become so all consuming in our lives and we are just learning the effect that is having in society. 

 You hear of kids not being able to socialize in person with other kids due to living mostly online. There are reports of cyber/social network bullying. Kids are not getting outside enough due to their indoor online saturation. As a parent, I see the importance of teaching my kids to limit their electronics and modern technology. We need to remind our children of cyber etiquette, and the value — and indeed, need — to turn it off! Turning it off does something to our souls. That is our Sunday tradition. An electronic famine after church on Sundays.

A Windows phone ad tag line summarizes how addicted we have become to our technology: “It’s  time for a  phone to save us from our phone.” The YouTube video shows it all too clearly.

Info on the Public Isolation project can be found at:

Update – My Oregonian How We Live Cover story- Nov. 20, 2010

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