When celebrities choose to remain unplugged from the wired world, are they exercising their privilege to be more aloof than the rest of us? Or are they setting a worthwhile example? The other day, Josh Hartnett confessed he pretty much uses his computer for iTunes. Also, he doesn't like to talk on the phone. I sympathize with him there. However, civilians like me who don't pick up or return calls generally 1) can't pay their rent and 2) are viewed as too big for their britches. Another example: Susan Sarandon, who gets along fine without the Web or email. I know, I know: it's a generational thing. On the other hand, she did learn how to text. At the New York premiere of August last week, I asked her what it's like to be unconnected.
So, how handy are you with a computer?
I don't go on the computer. My office, anything they get--my assistant prints it out and gives it to me. I don't have the patience. So I write notes and call people and write letters.
Wow, you write letters?
I'm a Luddite! I mean, I can text, because my children won't answer the phone if I call.
Surely you've used the Internet before. Have you ever Googled yourself?
No. I have people that send me hundreds of pages of people talking about me that see me on the street. I really don't want to know. The idea that this many people are having that many conversations about everything--and, you know, when you get into the stuff that's been damaging, a lot of it's taken out of context, and simplified and circulated, and then it becomes fact. So I don't' want to get into it. I just have a really good relationship with people who talk to me in person. But my kids are constantly Googling--well, sometimes me, but they've got all kinds of sites. Sometimes they go on their sites that people have started. Of course my daughter [Eva Amurri] is an actor now.
So why do you not do email?
You know what, my feeling is I just have more information than I can deal with as it is. And so I don't want to also add email to that. People have my office email or whatever, they can get to me through my kids. But I really don't want to sit there for another hour at night. Every night I have homework anyway, it takes me about an hour and a half. If I was sitting with email, I'd go crazy. Also, I really like hearing people's voices and sometimes I think you can really misinterpret things [in an email]. And also sometimes I feel that people get empowered to say things they don't...you know.
Otherwise have the cojones to say? Also, sarcasm doesn't come across well in email.
Humor doesn't come across. I know that in middle schools there are some terrible suspensions that have happened when kids are just learning how to deal with all that. But the good news is you don't have to spell anymore. And when you're texting, you can pretty much write anything that is close--which is a relief, I suppose.
If a decline in standards can be called that.
Yeah. I mean, I think it's been fine politically. It's the thing that's going to save our ass, if our ass is to be saved--the Internet.
You don't think the Internet's becoming corporatized?
They're trying, but still--all the kids that are really political now, that are organizing the WTO [demonstrations] and everything, [that] all happened because of the Internet. It's no longer centrally coordinated, and also they have a way of getting out images and things that the corporate-owned media is not putting out. So you can't get away with anything anymore, and I think that's good, in a way--transparency. My theory is that all these buildings that are going up all over New York that are glass--did you notice, everything is just totally glass now?--that is an offshoot of the fact that people have gotten used to the concept of having no privacy, because of the Internet.
There's the one that Frank Gehry designed for IAC Media, with the frosted glass.
Yeah, that's beautiful. But the question is, if you're paying a huge amount for an apartment--people before wouldn't think of paying that much money for so little privacy. Now it's like, yeah, absolutely.