Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid: Changing Feelings about Technology, from the Telegraph to Twitter


Product Details

Harvard University Press
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.2 X 1.4 inches | 0.95 pounds

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About the Author

Luke Fernandez is Assistant Professor in the School of Computing and codirector of the Tech Outreach Center at Weber State University. His essays on the effects of the internet on higher education have appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education. An NEH Digital Humanities Fellowship funded his course "Are Machines Making Us Stupid?" which generated media interest across Utah. He blogs at
Susan J. Matt is Presidential Distinguished Professor of History at Weber State University and author of Keeping Up with the Joneses: Envy in American Consumer Society and Homesickness: An American History, both widely reviewed. She has appeared on many radio programs, including To the Best of Our Knowledge on Wisconsin Public Radio and the CBC's Tapestry, and her work has been recognized in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Slate, New York Magazine, and Washington Post, among others.


Online immersion can distort emotion...Marshalling archival sources and interviews, [Fernandez and Matt] trace how norms (say, around loneliness) have shifted with technological change. Broadcasting deregulation under President Ronald Reagan, for instance, made room for anger-inducing right-wing 'talk radio.' Yet, as they show, the digital world lifts even more limits, stimulating and affirming a range of negative emotions.-- (05/14/2019)
This is a thoughtfully nuanced take on the kind of 'is technology killing us dead' alarmist tracts that have proliferated as 'smart' devices have proliferated, an effect largely achieved by grounding the whole question deeper in history. The social reactions to the telegraph, the home radio, the television, and, crucially, a country-crossing modern highway system, all interestingly foreground many of the modern reactions to further inroads made into our private lives by technology on every side.-- (05/06/2019)
A valuable addition to the study of social behavior influenced by technologies. The authors have worked hard in aggregating thousands of small pieces of evidence scattered in diverse historical and modern sources to build an illuminating context in which we can begin to fathom our emotional states entangled with technologies.-- (05/01/2019)
We take some things for granted today--that selfies make us narcissistic, that social media can make us lonely, and so on. This book adds much-needed historical perspective to these knee-jerk fears, by examining how our emotions have been expressed over time, and how they've been impacted by new technologies along the way.-- (12/26/2019)
Impressive...A well-articulated and nuanced analysis of the overlooked symbiosis between the cultural history of emotions and technological developments.--Alina Ivan"The Psychologist" (01/01/2020)
A powerful story of how new forms of technology are continually integrated into the human experience. A particularly fascinating chapter outlines the history of anger in American society, from a trait to be publicly something which social media has transformed into 'a right of all'... Anyone interested in seeing the digital age through a new perspective should be pleased with this rich account.-- (03/08/2019)
In this wonderful book we learn that new ideas are often just repeats from the past, and we may get more than we bargained for with our latest technological engagements. Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid is a must-read for anyone worried about how today's surfeit of digital devices may challenge our humanity, and wondering if, given the emotional costs, we might choose another way.--Safiya Umoja Noble, author of Algorithms of Oppression
Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid is a crisp and compelling read. The authors make extensive use of on-the-ground human perspectives, from both the historical record and personal interviews, lending the book a verisimilitude that is exceedingly rare.--William Powers, author of Hamlet's BlackBerry: Building a Good Life in the Digital Age
The time is certainly ripe for a book like this. The premise is remarkably simple: track the ways in which emotions have changed over time in relation to new waves of communication technology. Using reflective storytelling built on historical research and contemporary data, the authors show us just how singular our own moment in time is.--Rob Boddice, Free University, Berlin