I know it’s trendy to fight the system and cry that we are all becoming slaves of technology, but this attitude overlooks that computers and phones are tools for communicating. When someone thinks I’m an idiot smiling at a machine, I’m actually smiling at my girlfriend who is 10000 miles away and whom I would have never met if not for these newfangled electronics. As they say: when the wise man points to the moon, the fool looks at the finger.
This is a topic that I’ve been wanting to tackle for a while now; much credit to this excellent post for bringing it to the front of my brain.
While this is true and I highly value this aspect of new digital technologies (some of the people most precious to me I met thanks to technology, and it’s helped me build many friendships with people close by whom I can’t see often) there is nevertheless also a lot of truth to it wearing away at our relationships with people we’re in contact with.
People can’t eat dinner at a restaurant without having their phones out—and it’s usually the adults and their work phones.
It used to be common courtesy to put your phone in your bag when you sit down with someone— for coffee, a meal, just a chat, it didn’t matter— but now people are always interrupting their visits to reply to someone else or double-check that the email they just got isn’t more important than their conversation partner.
Kids neglect even calling a hello when they leave their rooms, because can’t take their ear-phones out when they’re walking around the house.
Even people perfectly capable of being social (i.e. there’s no psychological reason for them to shut other people out in order to feel safe/stable) shut out everyone else with their phones and music, neglecting such simple social interactions as saying hello to the person next to them.
People chat over Facebook even when they could be hanging out in person instead.
Study groups and discussions are by and large over Google Docs or Facebook even when there exists a convenient time and place to meet up.
People talk to their friends or family who’re only a couple hours away all the time, so they don’t feel the need to visit in person except maybe for major holidays and events.
So yes, technology has allowed us access to so many people we don’t have the luxury of being able to see in person when we want nothing more, but the more technology improves, the lazier people also become. They can’t even be bothered to meet up in person, talk in person, and devote their attention to the living, breathing people in front of them.
And because they’re not as good at dealing with people in person anymore, they construct a vicious circle by which they actively avoid physical meetings (especially upsetting ones), get worse at handling them, and therefore are increasingly less inclined to go out of their way to expose themselves to them.
You can tell me anything you like to deny this, but as someone who’s seen the absolute best and worst of this issue (partly due to a debilitating anxious reaction to expressing my feelings vocally, and years of bullying that hardly encouraged any desire to be friends with anyone in my city never mind my classes), I can appreciate that if you do deny that this is a very dangerous double-edged sword that is doing a lot of shallower damage to a larger population than it is doing good to a small one (the benefits of which are due to the same downward progression as the negative effects), then I’m sorry but you’ve got your head deep, deep in the sand. The fool may look to the finger and the wise to the moon, but even the wise man’s a fool if he then closes his eyes to the sky.