Summary

Jonathan Safran Foer begins his essay “How Not to Be Alone” by describing a teenage girl crying and apparently talking to her mother over the phone. Foer is curious about why the girl is crying and considers approaching her. He reflects whether his actions might be seen as an intrusion or whether they might help the girl. He then considers the other option – going back to scrolling on his phone. This gets the writer thinking about technology. 

Foer argues that technology is a distraction which encourages people to ignore or forget others even though it promotes connectedness. He mentions psychological studies which show that the more distracted people are, the less they are inclined to develop empathy. However, Foer is aware that what most people and children need is attention.

The writer explores how technologies were s...

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