I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction
– Albert Einstein
Has this already happened? Videos such as ‘Look Up’ and other similar campaigns would have you believe that for the growth of technology, we have sacrificed the sanctity of human interaction however is this really the case?
It is undeniable that technology has made our lives easier in many ways. Research, writing, and communicating via email, text messaging, and social media have never been easier. You could literally Google any question that came to mind and probably get an answer. But as a result of so many things being available at the click of a button, have we really sacrificed real relationships and become more antisocial?
Technology allows us to maintain Relationships
In the past, when a friend or loved one moved away to a different country, keeping in touch was extremely difficult and moving away, pretty much meant losing a friend, or ending a relationship. However the growth of social media has meant that long-distance relationships and friendships are far easier to maintain. In a world where globalisation has increased rapidly throughout the years, it makes sense that technology has caught up to bridge the social gap.
Personally speaking, due to having grown up abroad in several International Schools, I have friends and family dotted all around the world. Technology allows me to maintain these relationships, as with most of my friends, I wouldn’t be able to see them for years to come. For instance my best friend lives in Australia whilst I live in the UK. She is at best a 22 hour flight away from me and yet with technology, I am able to speak to her every day and remain a part of her life. Yes there are downsides to technology and social media, but the fact that you can talk instantly to someone halfway across the world from you is a pretty magical up side in my opinion.
New ways of meeting people
Furthermore, due to the growth of technology and the shifts in how it is used, social media is not just being used to keep in contact with friends you have met, but it is also being used to make friends. Apps and websites such as omegle, chatroulette, and tinder allow you to connect and chat with complete strangers, allowing the start of new friendships that you probably would not have made if not for the internet. Although there are many risks to this, there are also many success stories of meeting people over the internet, some even ending in marriage.
So clearly technology is not simply surpassing human interaction but in some cases, is aiding it.
We have always been Anti-Social people
There are of course complaints that the growth of social media and technology has meant that people may gather together only to all sit together on their phones texting other people (or each other), playing games, and surfing the internet. Ultimately, displaying anti-social behaviour in a ‘social’ setting. People site situations in trains where everyone is on their phones instead of interacting.
However is this really so different from the way we were in the past?
Are we merely substituting one form of anti-social behaviour for another?
Children of the Technology Age
Whilst I have stated the positives of technology and social media, I have merely glazed over the downsides of which there are several. Simply put, a few of the disadvantages are:
- Face to face connections being endangered
- Risks of fraud and Identity Theft
- Invasions of privacy
- New forms of bullying – Cyber bullying and other crimes against children
- Time wasting
As I have experienced both a time with and without the availability of social networking and such communication technologies, I can see the value of both the advantages and disadvantages of technology. Seeing children nowadays as young as the age of 4 playing on an Ipad or IPhone does give me a sense of unease as I do believe children of such a young age should be interacting with their parents and enjoying a simple technology-limited life so as to greater appreciate such technology when they get older, and not take it for granted (in which education too would play a part). However at the same time, having children being introduced to technology so early in life, does give them greater advantages in a world where technology is constantly evolving and growing.
What should we do?
Perhaps the answer is not to condemn technology as the source of anti-social behaviour but rather to look at ourselves and evaluate our behaviour and how we utilise technology. Technology has so much potential to aid socialisation and human interaction instead of hindering it. Maybe what people deem as ‘anti-social behaviour’ is actually a shift in how our society chooses to socialise and who they choose to socialise with. Ultimately as long as we are able to put down the phones every once and a while, and enjoy life with the people around us, as well as those we choose to stay in contact with online, perhaps this hyper connected world isn’t such a bad thing