With so much crazy technology these days, AI, VR, autonomous cars, drones, robot vacuum cleaners, the way we work and the way we live is changing fast, and I don’t know about you, but I’m getting nervous!
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter etc. are all part of daily lives now, with everything on demand at the touch of our fingertips. The ironic thing is, for something named’ Social’ Media, it is actually the least sociable thing out there. Nowadays, you can eat, shop, socialise alone without actually feeling alone, and with remote teams and distant working now in place, you can be in a completely different building or country than your co-workers, yet still be co-workers. With the introduction of a lot of this technology over the last decade or so, people can live the bulk of their daily lives with very little human interaction, something I fear is only to worsen as time and tech, moves forward.
Whilst some say in the 21st Century we connect more with people than we ever have before, is connection really the word if it’s all done remotely? If we’re merely commenting on someone’s post or updating loved ones on our latest news via a smart phone app, does it really count as connecting? Yes, granted we can see more photos of our family and friends than we would any other way, we can hear about exciting news like new babies, engagements, new jobs etc. real quick, and can congratulate them immediately, that I can see, but the future is changing for sure and real-life connections are without a doubt deteriorating. According to the Bank of America, 2016, almost 40% of millennials interact more with their smartphone than with their parents, friends, partners, co-workers and even children! Crazy nuts!
Mark Zuckerberg spoke recently about what Facebook stands for, and commented that it brings us closer together, building one solid global community. Whilst I understand that this was the reason for its origination, its primary purpose, I do fear it’s gone very off course. He also commented that ‘history is the story of how we have learned to come together’, and whilst that may be true, and some technologies have certainly bridged gaps, coming together the old-fashioned way as in ‘real life’ has actually suffered and taken a back seat.
Social media is addictive, we’re all guilty. Scrolling through your feed is compulsive and seeing what ‘friends’ are up to in their perfectly portrayed life is hard to turn away from, and that’s a whole different psychology blog, but the bigger question is whilst to some extent this is keeping people connected, sometimes all over the world, what does that do for the need for human connection, to be spoken to face to face, to laugh with someone, to share a meal with someone, to buy someone a drink?
And how often do you even see any of these ‘friends’? How many of them do you even know? I for one only make friends on Facebook with people I would stop and talk to, who’s kids names I know, or I know where they work, or maybe they’re my sisters best friend or work with her, but if I wouldn’t say Hi in the street and ask, and care about how they are, then they don’t make the list. And how long does this last? Is social media something we grow out of? If we were to come off Facebook are we no longer friends with these people in real life?
Our family and close friends we will of course always be connected with outside of social media, or at least we should be. Holidays, meals, nights out, family events, the best experiences in life are shared with those we love and care about and these are the things we should be doing in person. Ok some things are done better online, on your own in your PJ’s with a glass in hand, such as holiday shopping, planning a day trip or googling a new book for the kindle, but otherwise, human connection is what we need more of in the future, if we’re actually planning to remain human!
And think of memories. In 20 years will you remember that time you sent someone you met on a train ride home from the pub a thumbs up for the roast dinner he cooked for his Grandmother and posted it online, or that Instagram post you liked of a squirrel playing with his nuts! Or, will you remember that time you headed up to the mountains with your best mate from 5th grade, hiking with all your camping gear for a boy’s weekend in the wilderness, or that time you and your girlfriend had a romantic weekend away at a Spa on the coast overlooking the ocean, the meal you went to with your parents to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary? Memories are experiences to treasure whether they’re super important ones or not. Live is an experience in itself and real experiences can only be shared with real people, people you can see, feel, smell, people physically in the same room as you, not just their name and face on your screen.
Technology is just gonna keep growing, there’s too much money involved for the Silicon Valley folk to slow it down, but I do wonder whether it will come full circle. Will Facebook impload on itself and social media as we know it cease? Will something be released that will in fact draw us closer by human connection? Maybe technology can be used more to help connect like-minded people? Can it be used more to get people to sign up for events they’re interested in where they can meet other real-life humans and forge a real, authentic connection – Kind of like Tinder but not so superficial!
Whilst technology is great, and we all use it daily in one form or another, and to some extent need to, me for my job everyday, human connection is so important for long term health and wellbeing, it can help against depression and anxiety and can have a positive effect on our lives in general. We really need to learn to live without being tethered to our devices and make the effort to get out there and physically connect.
It wasn’t that long ago that we didn’t have mobile phones, or Facebook, or even emails. People used to talk to each other, have long meaningful conversations, and enjoy the time we spent doing it. We used to listen, really listen to each other without the distraction of notification pings and text beeps.
But now? Now we are in the middle of a digital tsunami, though our own personal and professional consumption and we need to take some responsibility for this. We are tailored to be emotional beings and we need to take stock of our lives and our time spent on social media verses that spent with human connections, and really evaluate what it’s doing to our basic human needs for love, support, security and belonging… in real life, not as part of a WhatsApp group.
Written by Editor, Rhian Cable
Mum, Wife, Marketing Specialist and Blogger – Living life every minute.