Does technology make us more alone?
Human beings are naturally and genetically created to gain satisfaction and meaningful relationships from real encounters with people which come along with so many benefits. Several studies indicate that technology has come in between these relationships and in turn created a generation that is becoming more and more lonelier everyday day by diverging away from real human interactions. In this paper, I am going to focus on why this blind form of communication is one of the main reasons people are feeling lonelier, despite been surrounded by more real friends, families and potentially intimate people that are usually ignored.
Ideas supporting technology is making us more alone:
- Social media is an illusion creation of human adaptation, and when people become addicted into its usage, they fail to connect with other people and themselves.
- Loneliness is when technology makes people unable to communicate important things or from holding views that others find inadmissible.
- Technology has prevented people from making meaningful relationships as text messages, and social media has become the connection of choice.
- Technology brings frustration to its users when they do not get satisfactory feedback to their needs which might drive one to depression as everyone on social network platforms seem always busy and not ready to give full attention to their connections.
- No matter the number of friends you have on social networks, they will always result in the same thing which is a technological bubble that keeps you isolated from real human interaction and contact and this kind of isolation make people lonely.
- The convenient and easiness of technology only gives an illusion of companionship and connection without the risk of intimacy.
Solutions to prevent technology from making us lonely:
- The only way people will stop being lonely is by first stopping ignoring their feelings or distracting themselves and then start listening to them and appropriately responding to messages their feelings are telling them.
- Self-management is another way to fight loneliness innovated by technology. This is disciplining oneself to avoid been carried away by the wave of technological loneliness.
- Giving attention to others and investing time and emotions to people from where one can make quality friends.
- Applying ethical behaviour in social media for example texting and posting commends that do not frustrate others.
Technology is not evil, it is being neutral and how we use it determines whether it is good or bad. Drawing the line between meaningful relationships and entertainment through technology is what is important to ensure that balance is attained.
Does Technology Make Us More Alone?
Human beings are naturally and genetically created to gain satisfaction and meaningful relationships from real encounters with people which come along with so many benefits. An example of this relationship is the care a baby is given. Babies that are frequently handled when they are young grow bigger and develop better muscles as compared to babies that get little or no physical contacts. Another example is people with a lot of friends in life are more likely to appear healthier and happier as compared to lonely people. In the last few decades, relationships have taken a new form with technological advancements. People are increasingly exposed to a large number of people every day, but unlike in the past where these contacts would be face to face encounters, today most contacts occur through television screens, computer monitors, and cell phones. There is a difference in mental and physical benefits impacted by real interaction and technological interaction. The fact remains that there is something about the real interaction that makes us compete and without it, our body and life begins to break down. Technology may appear seductive when satisfying human vulnerabilities, but the fact is, it creates an illusion of false intimacy and companionship because it ignores the deepest demands of relationships. With the growing digital age introducing social media platforms that are readily accessible, intimacy is becoming more and more blurred, and loneliness is becoming a common occurrence as more personal profiles created on social media provide reassurance that the bond is real. Adam, Gopnik (251) gives an example of a character by the name Olivia who he narrates at a younger age, Olivia has already designed an imagery friend called Charlie Ravioli. However, Charlie, most of the times is always busy, and Olivia tries countless times to reach him by phone to entertain herself to no avail and this struggle continues even after she designs Charlie’s assistant that is equally unavailable. At a young age, Olivia is already so absorbed into social media and understands that people are busy and always in a rush and people are too busy that you can only use phones to try and get hold of them. She is already being welcomed into the technological world of loneliness something that she can’t get herself out of because it is what trends and been used in her generation. In this paper, I am going to focus on why this blind form of communication is one of the main reasons people are feeling more lonely, despite been surrounded by more real friends, families and potentially intimate people that are usually ignored.
To start with, technology has some undeniable benefits that couldn’t be achieved earlier. For the last few centuries, technology has brought the world closer making communication easier across distances. Telegrams are faster than letters, phone calls are even faster than telegrams and even more pleasant since they allow people to hear each other’s voice regardless of their locations. Online communication is the most efficient of all with email been so instantaneous, communication programs like Skype, iChat and Google video chat making it possible to see people while you are communicating with them rather than just hearing their voice (Castells 113). Technology has provided tools to not only keep in touch with each other but also provided a platform to express feelings and opinions on a broader audience something that was impossible before. Even though technology has made it possible to communicate with anybody from anywhere in the world, it will never replace the physical and mental benefits from experienced from a real interaction. Moreover, the boundless openness towards the world is making people lonelier. People have grown a tendency of automating their lives. This rapid pace of life is forcing alienation from nature, family, and society. Individuals who don’t comply with the established and widely acceptable way of behavior are often viewed as neurotic and lonely but, on the other side, the lacking of basic security and psychological survival is causing people to conform to the false and virtual sense of behavior. Social media is an illusion creation of human adaptation, and when people become addicted into its usage, they fail to connect with other people and themselves. This causes them to become more and more alone. Unlike in the past when people willingly isolated themselves from the society for the purposes like contemplating, today people isolate themselves because of the empty vanity convenience and the imaginary benefits of social media.
Jung (22) states that, “Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible”. Jung predicted that human mind could be addicted to technology. He defined this addiction as bringing down communication to virtual contacts which do not rely on eye contact, voice, tone and body language. This face to face alienation results into poor social skills and unnatural behavior whenever virtually socialized people find themselves in real life situations. The inability to connect with people outside the online world makes people more alone. Social media has revolutionized the way people connect and relate to others. Activities are measured by tweets and Facebook status and people usually hide their vulnerability behind Facebook status which they design in the way they want to appear to others and themselves, something that is an illusion and a big lie to oneself. They build an illusion of friendship that do not work in real life. Social media is not equal to deep and meaningful relationships that make people complete and part of society.
Technology has contributed to less human communication in many arenas in the society. An example is in an average family where video games, television, and social media has introduced a new form of entertainment, relaxation and accommodating one’s mind for example when stressed. This has replaced the earlier and healthier ways of relaxing and entertaining one self and family. This is due to the reduced human interaction it has brought along in a family. Earlier on, families would sit down together and eat dinner as they talk but nowadays the norm is sitting in front of the TV and eat without talking. No attention is given to each other that would encourage a member to present an ailing problem or a stressful situation probably he or she is facing in life. This causes them to resort to accommodating their minds with technology and lying to themselves it will bring some sense of relaxation, but in the real sense, the problem remains unsolved. No wonder the many cases of depression faced today as everyone is busy with technology even to realize their close ones are going through problems. Today when a family is sited together and eating dinner they usually talk of nothing significant because nobody wants to be distracted from what they are doing (Bott, Elizabeth, and Elizabeth 96). At times, you will be told “ssssh” and that completely shuts you up. Some families don’t even sit together as mostly meals are instant as they eat whenever and wherever they want. To make the matters worse, dinner is the only time today families find themselves gathered together and after that everyone goes their ways. Technology has brought self-imposed isolation that is not only confined to dinner time but after dinner and if they return home they usually return to their pads, computer games and cellular phones (Strong, Bryan, and Theodore 53).
Technology has prevented people from making meaningful relationships. According to Cotterell (115), young people have shown a decline in creating a meaningful relationship in the past two decades. Turkle (274) states that “But very quickly, the text message became the connection of choice…and now we look to a network to defend us against loneliness even as we use it to control the intensity of our connections”. The Specific form of technology that has contributed largely in declining meaningful relationships is social media. The reality is, social networking sites only enable one to connect with friends but there is no effort made to actively talk with them. The social media can appear to be the key enabler of communication, but it only provides more information that is accommodating the time of people leaving no time to connect with people in real interactions.
Social media is, therefore, losing the real-life interaction by keeping busy connecting with people that you have nothing in common. Today social media is like an evolution of artificial interaction that erodes social skills. It is an invention of new companionship that do not have the ability to support real interaction that results in meaningful relationships. It is important for people to ensure they develop better ways of emotionally connecting with people that can keep them engaged in the long term.
Social networking is just a platform that limits the ability to show empathy and aspects of intimacy that are important in the life of human beings. It is not good for people to treat technology as a perfect thing in the world that can eliminate loneliness when in actual sense contributes to. As possible as it is to wilfully engage in technology so is it possible to disengage at will, but the disengagement part is what has proved difficult because being online all the time has turned into an addiction. What people need to know is that technology is a perfect place where one can hide and fake identity whereas intimacy requires an authentic human interaction (Kreps, David, Gordon, and Marie Griffiths 303).
Technology can be labeled as an innovation of loneliness. No matter how connected one is, not everyone is always available and ready to respond to them and many times feedback is not satisfactory, it is always associated with frustration. When one is happy, bored, unwell and being in any form of status, they find themselves jumping into social media to exploit their happiness, share their sadness, get advice and sort this new status. They send texts to family and friends and a few respond, mostly in a functional or perfunctory way. Everyone seems busy, and no full attention is really given. This makes one restless, and the activity remains jumping to Twitter and back to Facebook then Instagram and so forth. All they get is few likes and delayed replies and encounters of links and marketing and not the fun cocktail party it used to be. This makes one dissatisfied and irritated as no one is around to talk to and this makes one feel lonely.
Despite the fact that technology allows one to communicate with people all over the world, in reality, no matter the number of friends you have on social networks, they will always result in the same thing which is a technological bubble that keeps you isolated from real human interaction and contact. When people experience this kind of isolation, they continue to be lonely because the virtual friends do not satisfy the most intimate needs, wants and desires in the long term. The real reason people mostly get in special media is to distract themselves from their feelings. This, however, is only a short-term thing but eventually the distractor leads to frustration because the needs remain unsatisfied in the long run. Supposing someone is feeling lonely, instead of listening to this feeling to determine what can really satisfy it, they immediately distract themselves by chatting online and participating in various forms. During this time, this person may get a feeling of satisfactory as the process of chatting replaces the feeling of loneliness they once had. This person may keep on chatting, but in the long run he or she will start experiencing realization that no matter how much they chat online, their basic needs which is a real human relationship never seems to be fulfilled and they get more frustrated. Continuing to ignore the feeling of loneliness, gets more painful and more desire to use the distractor continues to grow. If this continued, the person might eventually end in depression.
The convenient and easiness of technology only gives an illusion of companionship and connection without the risk of intimacy. People are accustomed to viewing intimacy as primarily sexual terms, but intimacy extends to connecting to healthy friendships and connecting to families. Closeness can, therefore, be cultivated from a soul mate to conversation with the hairdresser or conversation from a rapport you have with a person that hands you your coffee every morning. Loneliness is, therefore, absence of intimacy in our lives. We might have friends on social media interact with them, but this just gives some sense of safety, but the friends are the type of people that you cannot confide in because they don’t understand you. The good thing is there is always a solution to everything. The kinds of bonds in social media need one to invest in the time to create and maintain them. Technology is essential in providing a channel, but it is upon us to make it real and authentic in order to create a genuine sharing and social bonds.
Projecting the trend of blind communication in 20-30 ahead, it is no doubt that the society will be like a lonely place to live in, everyone by himself with these technological gadgets, children growing up with no meaningful relationships and real communication being a complete mess. This may sound alarming but the warning are around us and more and more people are becoming lonelier. The only way people will stop being lonely is by first stopping ignoring their feelings or distracting themselves and then start listening to them and appropriately responding to messages their feelings are telling them. The way to do this is by first identifying the feeling which is having little or no meaningful relationships. People can be lonely because they don’t have enough friends or because they lack a romantic partner. Secondly is remembering the meaning that loneliness tells one to find a person or people that cares about them. Thirdly is deciding why you are feeling lonely either because you watch too much TV or spend most of your time online which prevents you from meeting other people and making friends. Finally, is finding those caring people to change your feelings by interacting with as many people as possible and making close relationships.
Self-management is another way to fight loneliness innovated by technology. This is disciplining oneself to avoid been carried away by the wave of technological loneliness. To be able to have high levels of self-management it is always important to first examine yourself how much time you spend on social media and if your days would be appropriately spending if you minimized being online. Always concentrate on one thing and stop multitasking with your phone. When at work, just concentrate on work, when at home and its dinner time, let it be specifically dinner time. Sometimes one is free at home, you can set a rule that there is no getting online when the sun is shining and instead go for a walk, ride a bike or get some other healthy physical activities for some time before you can pull out your phone or iPad.
A family can set such a rule for every member of the household. If this culture is practiced by a significant number of people, the it can be a surety that the future is at a better place with technology. People will learn to manage and discipline themselves, and real human interaction which brings meaningful relationships will not be replaced by technology. Families will have time together, it will be possible to meet people outside technology and interacting more with people and doing fan activities together will bring them closer.
One thing technology is doing is reducing human conduct and making people even forget how to contact themselves in real meetings. Meaningful connections, like friends, clients, making rapport with people who later become good friends and more other relationships are a huge impact on someone’s happiness (Turkle 94). Close relationships relieve stress, make one comfortable and bring joy and most importantly prevent loneliness and isolation.
Technology has proved difficult to meet these quality people as close friendship does not just happen. They need investment in time and emotions. Any time one can make friends, reconnect with old ones and improve on the existing ones to make your social life healthier. This is possible by being more curious and giving your attention to others. This will make others reciprocate whether on social media or real interaction. There is no need in having so many friends and out of all of them nobody you can confide in. It is good to use social media positively and get to connect more with those friends and plan for meetings to interact more. WhatsApp groups and Facebook groups are usually people with common characteristic and imagine how many close relationships one can make from those groups if they just planned for a get-together or parties. Making friends is more than just meeting but being a friend that you would love others to be, supportive, trustworthy and reliable. This way people will invent relationships they can confide in, and they can always count on when in need. Out of social media friends, there are other potentially perfect places to identify with and connect with people including joining a class, joining a club and getting in voluntary activities (Burgess, Robert, and Ted 201). In all these social settings, it should always be a rule to unplug from technology as it is always a distraction.
Most people have morals and ethics, and everyone has beliefs in what is right or wrong. The notion that ethical behavior when it comes to social media is moot is what contributes to the factor of frustration and loneliness. This is because, the social users think that when they are hiding behind the screens and texting instead of speaking, what they text does not qualify as unethical behaviour (JKang, Sonia, and Galen 74). Social users should avoid this notion and put in mind that the people they communicate and respond to are humans with feelings like them and even if they will never have to see or know their reactions, they may contribute to one’s frustration or depression. The values and lessons taught as we grow up about face to face interaction and the experiences gained on what should and should not be done should be transferred to social media. Also, the Golden Rule should always stand, treating others just the way you would want to be treated. By this I mean, avoiding things you do on social media which you would personally dislike, learning to disengage from social media when someone needs your attention and finally trying to be more attentive and positively responsive to friends on social media from which you can grow a more connective relationship.
Loneliness is an increasing by-product of overreliance on technology. Furthermore, people continue to increasingly seek technology as a remedy for the problem it has created. The more time people continue to create virtual relationships and distract themselves from their loneliness by social networking, the more will social media handicap meaningful relationships. The more people fail to connect more emotionally and authentically with people, the more painful the feeling of loneliness will be, the more they become addicted and the more distracted they will be leading to frustration and eventually depression. Intimacy remains to be an important aspect of life, and it can only be achieved by spending more time with each another, the process that will facilitate discovering more aspects about each other. Technology is not evil, it is being neutral and how we use it determines whether it is good or bad. Drawing the line between meaningful relationships and entertainment through technology is what is important to ensure that balance is attained. If a solution is not put into consideration, then we will have a future where people are more isolated and even lonelier.
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