I'm looking for the name of a science fiction short story in which characters lack modesty when communicating over video phones but direct contact is excruciatingly embarrassing.

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    It's not a short story, and they use hologram-like telepresence instead of video screens, but I immediately thought of the Solarians in Isaac Asimov's novel "The Naked Sun": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Naked_Sun – Royal Canadian Bandit Dec 3 '14 at 20:50
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    So, wait - video & other remote interaction is the norm and direct face-to-face contact is awkward? Sounds like real life to me. – Omegacron Dec 3 '14 at 21:06
  • @Omegacron I know right? – Trish Ling Dec 3 '14 at 21:11
  • Reminds of the episode "The Haven" from The Outer Limits. – Trish Ling Dec 3 '14 at 21:31
  • @Royal is correct. The story is Naked Sun by Asimov. I remember it well. – JK. Dec 11 '14 at 22:42

Maybe The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster. Published in 1909.

The story describes a world in which most of the human population has lost the ability to live on the surface of the Earth. Each individual now lives in isolation below ground in a standard 'cell', with all bodily and spiritual needs met by the omnipotent, global Machine. Travel is permitted but unpopular and rarely necessary. Communication is made via a kind of instant messaging/video conferencing machine called the speaking apparatus, with which people conduct their only activity, the sharing of ideas and what passes for knowledge. The two main characters, Vashti and her son Kuno, live on opposite sides of the world. Vashti is content with her life, which, like most inhabitants of the world, she spends producing and endlessly discussing secondhand 'ideas'. Kuno, however, is a sensualist and a rebel. He persuades a reluctant Vashti to endure the journey (and the resultant unwelcome personal interaction) to his cell.

Full text here.
Seems someone was looking for a very similar story (perhaps the same one): Name of the Sci fi book where all human contact is via video link?

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  • That's the one I thought of too, but "lack modesty when communicating over video phones" doesn't seem to fit. "And in the armchair there sits a swaddled lump of flesh--a woman, about five feet high, with a face as white as a fungus." Far from being nude, she is "swaddled". – user14111 Dec 3 '14 at 22:06
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    @user14111 Lack of modesty does not necessarily mean naked. :D – Trish Ling Dec 3 '14 at 22:10
  • Then what interpretation do you put on the OP's words "lack modesty when communicating over video phones"? What sort of modesty does Vashti lack in Forster's story? – user14111 Dec 3 '14 at 22:19

Could it be Michel Houellebecq's 'The Possibility of an Island'? It has been a while since I read it. It has two narrative threads. The present and the future. In the future the last remaining clones of a man in the present live alone and eschew all physical contact with each other. However they are in relative constant contact through electronic means.

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