Whether '55 Americans' authentically reflect the emotional states of more than 327 million residents of the United States is a statistical irritant. The strength of each chapter, dedicated to a specific emotion listed in the book’s title, lies more in historical materials rather than interviews. The historical evidence provides fascinating accounts of the effect of earlier technologies, such as postal service and telegraph, on social behavior ... The book is 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.
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 ... Fernandez and Matt have created a fascinating picture of the historical development of what they refer to as new emotional patterns that traverse 'from our right to unfettered anger and unconstrained self-promotion to our awe at our own transcendence' ... a fairly optimistic spin on a generational transformation that touches the lives of virtually every human being on Earth.
Weber State University educators Fernandez, an assistant computing professor, and Matt, a history professor, productively combine their expertise in this informative book about the cultural link between emotions and technology. Examining various platforms and devices, from the 19th-century telegraph to modern innovations, including Facebook and smartphones, they tell a powerful story of how new forms of technology are continually integrated into the human experience ... Rather than condemn modern technology out of hand, Fernandez and Matt simply connect emotional constants of the human experience to new platforms that alter how they are expressed and perceived. Anyone interested in seeing the digital age through a new perspective should be pleased with this rich account.