The End of Absence

Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection



Michael Harris


Current, a member of Penguin Group LLC, first edition, 2014


ISBN: 978-1-59184-693-2

I thought that this book would be useful for those of us who still remember the world before the internet. The premise of the book is that being constantly connected to the world might limit our ability for introspection and to produce original thoughts; something that I happen to agree with. Although the book does provide plenty of examples that the internet can indeed impair our behavior, it is a bit too diffuse for my taste. The author weaves a lot of personal (and ultimately useless) anecdotes into his narrative often distracting the reader from the points he is trying to make. To make matters worse, as the book progresses you get an ever stronger feeling that the author is reaching some sort of cathartic epiphany about his constant use of the internet, but shockingly ends by simply concluding that he needs and enjoys making ample use of the internet. So rather than getting some enlightened viewpoint that would justify less use of the internet we get the trite conclusion that our current use of the internet is ultimately positive; something that pretty much everyone already knows. I really ended wondering why I purchased the book in the first place. As such, I would have to recommend readers to save their money and find a better book to read. However, if you get the book as a gift, or if you find it for $1 at a book discount store, you can extract the occasional nugget of wisdom. In particular I would recommend chapter 4 (Public Opinion) as it does a good job of convincing us that reading opinions on the internet might actually be counterproductive for our decision making, and I think most of us aren’t really aware of this.