We live in a world of increasingly well-connected individuals tugging along with their little devices. There’s no denying that our cell phones and notebooks and tablets are all important when it comes to staying connected. As more and more people are gaining access to the internet and mobile communication services with all that this Garden of Bytes has to offer, the more we’re moving away from the inherent tendency to coalesce and exchange ideas that has been associated with human nature, towards becoming annoying little units bumping into each other out of the need to function effectively.
You know a while back, topics like ‘Is Facebook the beginning of the end of communication as we know it?’ became insanely frequent on the debating circuit, and for a good reason. ‘a while back’ is when the situation had alarmed us; sadly it no longer seems to.
There was a time when friendships were established as you came across people, spent time together and sought to establish a mutual understanding. Mutual WHAT?
Say hello to mutual friends online- Facebook has enabled you to strike up a camaradie with anyone with a simple click. Quite a number of people i know today hang out on Google Plus, not the mall or the pool table. Birthdays are now daily routines that are swiftly dealt with a couple of hastily typed out birthday wishes each day you log in to your account.
I miss the times when wishing someone meant waiting for the clock to strike 12 and harping an off key birthday song for a dear friend. I miss days when face to face conversations were how you primarily communicated amongst yourselves: electronic mail took care of everything else.
Social platforms and devices were formulated to keep people connected despite the miles in between. Unfortunately, it has backfired into distancing us from those who’re closer to us, within reach.
Because replying to a text message at your convenience seems to be a hands down winner over an actual conversation, even a phone call. A screen is our interface with people we know and love- how much more absurd could it get? In the race to save more time (for more texting?) and ‘effectively manage our lives’, we’re hooked to anything with a screen and at least one button (and preferably a touch screen or qwerty keypad.)
We keep moving in and out of our virtual profiles into real ones and we’d like to think, very effectively at that. We believe that being constantly signed in to our Facebook accounts will make us less lonely, that if ‘you’re unable to’, G+ hangouts can always substitute for the real ones, that an e-card can always make up for our absence. We believe: desperately believe.
Most people put on display shrunken, horrified faces when asked to give up their cell phones for a week. Honestly, how hard could it be living with your own self? How incomprehensible does the idea of solitude uninterrupted by a barrage of endless e-mails, texts and wall posts seem?
The onset of this digi-social revolution has enabled better communication on one hand, but disabled it on the very other. The impulse to stay connected overrides people’s priorities. The need to be constantly in the middle of this flux is now reflexive.
In this respect, i happen to be pretty old school. Looking at how communication in our times has morphed into overcommunication, i feel an urgent need for us to come out of our shells and speak with one another. The power of dialogue has been grossly underestimated. It binds people together and draws out a sense of their selves and promotes understanding.
Think for a minute: if online media were that effective, why doesn’t the prime minister just log into his account and chill?
Because the spoken word is a promise of trust and understanding between the parties involved. We’ve been digging out our laptops SO frequently and with such fervour each day, that we no longer know the other. We inhabit our shells for so long, we’ve actually forgotten the subtle, transformative art of communication. In workplaces, there are no colleagues, just a bunch of employees plugged into the network. In classrooms, there’s no class of students. It just people inside a room posting publically accepted and applauded forms of sarcasm and humour on each others’ walls. The dinner table has never been the same after technology knocked the door: there’s GOT to be someone who’s watching television and yet another who’s answering calls or chatting during dinner.
A state of pity, of lament to see what we have been reduced to. Machines are substituting for human presence, since most people don’t have the time anyway- because guess what, they’re busy texting someone!
We’ve landed ourselves in a downward spiral, where foolish as we sound admitting it, we’ve got the tail wagging the dog.
Let’s get the word out- literally. Let us reach out to one another in times of need, times of trouble, ones of happiness and joy. Let us seek to really connect with each and order our lives ourselves for a change. Let us make the people in our lives a priority than the impulsive need to stay connected with them virtually. Let us once again, attempt to define ourselves beyond a sequence of well thought and easily edited characters. Let us accept solitude in its entirety and not be intimidated by the idea of spending a few precious minutes alone with ourselves.
Let us be, for a change.