Social interaction is dying. Long live social media!

I’ve had it with smartphones, social media, and the societal ignorance it promotes.  Facebook, texting, BBM and so forth are contributing to the downfall of a socially fluent society.  I would love to pin it on a certain younger generation, but I can’t.  My generation is just as much to blame for this rampant devolution into isolation as any other.  We sit around checking our smartphones like our existence depends on it.  We could all disappear if we didn’t update our status every 3 hours, or tweet about seeing a bottle cap in the middle of the road.  It’s worse than a narcotic addiction sometimes.

I have been out for the evening with friends, having a jolly time when one of my companions goes into a panic because their phone is about to die.  Now if they had been worried about the babysitter, an elderly or sick relative I’d have understood, but they were in a panic because they couldn’t finish their game of candy crush (or some such nonsense).

A few years ago, before the advent of the iPhone, I would be able to go out the local pub on my own and be guaranteed a conversation with one, or many different people.  These establishments promoted social interaction.  It was how ideas were exchanged, discussed, and yes sometimes disagreed upon.  The establishment would be buzzing with laughter and raised voices, and these sounds most times louder than any music or a sports event on the television perched high above our heads.

Now, I can go into that same pub and the music seems too loud.  Conversations are nonexistent.  The only laughter I hear is coming from the TV.  I look around at the packed tables and spy people with their heads down, leaning over their favourite application (I hate the word “app”), rather than engaging with their compatriots.  It’s truly a sad state of affairs; our attentions are so easily swayed by little LED’s.  I liken the ability of swiping our fingers over a screen to kindergarten children working on their finger paintings.  Has that what great technological advancement has gotten us?  Intellectual regression?  I wish I knew.

We have replaced face-to-face communication with electronic screens.  We type out our conversations rather than orally converse about our lives now.  When we finally give in and actually agree to meet in public, our friends are genuinely caught by surprise by any physical changes we may have gone through.  Now this would be acceptable if your friends lived far, far away, but when they are live on the next block in your neighbourhood, well you do the math.

The other part of this “technological revolution” has been the removal of our situational awareness.  People seem to be completely oblivious of their surroundings when their communicator vibrates.  I was sitting in a common area at school this week, quietly working and observing my surroundings when a class change happened.  Students shuffled by in a steady stream heading towards the stairs.  All of a sudden a guy came to a dead stop at the top of the stairs, reached into his pocket to pull his phone out, and started typing madly.  He was completely oblivious to the traffic jam he had caused, and didn’t seem to care.  He put his phone away and carried on.  Ignorance is bliss, and he seemed to be a pretty happy guy.

Facebook, twitter, tumblr etc can’t hold a candle to face-to-face, in the flesh conversation.  If we don’t recapture this fundamental requirement of interpersonal communications we are heading towards a life of isolation and self imposed loneliness.  In all fairness, I do have social media accounts, however I do not use them to share my life or converse with my friends.  I use them to follow news stories and other hobbies that interest me.  If my friends want to talk or share something with me, they either call, meet me for coffee, go for a walk, or just come sit on my front step and talk.

Till next week
A Clockwork Techie

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