I read a letter in the local paper—I hate to read them because they often just make me mad; I live in the Bible Belt, after all—the other day that made me actually agree with someone I probably would never have agreed with had I met him in person. I didn’t agree with what he was saying—that our constant technology use is the cause of violence in our culture, not guns—but I did agree with the sentiment. I think our constant use of technology may be separating us farther from each other, causing us to become less compassionate and human as we bond via the Internet.
I am a huge Internet proponent, of course. I think it should be free—SOCIALIST! I hear it already; pshaw, I care not!—and I think it’s a great equalizer when it comes to education, job opportunities and even simple connections around the world. If used well, it could create much more educated societies, and its uses are limitless.
That said, I think that its use as a social instrument should be kept to a minimum. I don’t think that the Internet itself—or texting, or other forms of technology—are to blame for shootings (though the woman whose baby died while she played Farmville does make me wonder). We’ve had shootings before technological advances; in fact, bullets were once a technological advancement! But I do think that we are growing apart as we rely more heavily on our techie instruments for personal connection.
I remember being with friends and family before the texting at dinner, the app sharing on Thanksgiving, the click-click-click of instant messaging and Guitar Hero as background noise to a birthday party. To me, those were sort of good old days—though I don’t believe in good old days, not really—when we could all enjoy one another’s company and focus on the now rather than the pixels.
I’m not sure if this will ever improve, though. I can’t see people giving up their Facebook—or especially their texting—anytime soon. But I could see us all making a more concentrated effort to enjoy one another’s company when we are together, if we only gave it a try. I like the cell phone games where you put your cell phone down at lunch (some people play where you have to pay if you answer or look at yours first!), and I like simply making no cell phone rules during family gatherings. What other ways can we stay connected as human beings (and did you ever think we’d need an answer to that question)?