It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. ”
– Albert Einstein
Have you ever felt invisible? Perhaps you’re bursting at the seems to share your day with someone only to be phone-blocked (maybe this is the modern equivelant of cock blocking too?!).
Have you ever hoped for a phone call that never came to be told someone was just so busy, but you could see they’ve posted a grumpy cat meme on Facebook? Or been on a date where checking their status was more of a priority than getting to know you?
If you have felt any of the above, I sincerely doubt you are alone! In fact, welcome to the modern age. I have a theory that the world is losing its humanity. This a belief reinforced by the endless tragedies and unfair bullshit unfolding in newspapers and on line. We have access to so much information yet sometimes it seems that we are bombarded by a combination of tragedy and fluffy puppies. (Not withstanding the likes of say, Amy Schumer or Ricky Gervase…peeps like them are a little bit awesome).
I’ve always been a people watcher. Strangers , friends, work colleagues – they all intrigue me. Their body language, the way people walk or talk. The way they behave. I wonder about who they are, what their stories are. As an avid people watcher (wait, does that sound creepy?!), what I sadly can’t help but notice is that we are losing something intrinsic and important.
The art of face to face conversation and closeness. Our lives are being compartmentalised into sound bites of seconds, posted on Facebook, or Instagram, or a one-second-pictorial-statement on Snapchat. Is a one sentence pondering, no matter how clever, actually a true snap shot of who a person really is?
There’s a lot of talk about people not being “real enough” on social media. Just like in the days of the Polaroid camera, I think it’s fair to say the by nature, humans would rather capture a happy moment than a tragic one. So of course we celebrate the wonderful on social media. Graduations, sporting triumphs, engagements, weddings, the birth of babies and travel adventures. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. The way that we record our most precious moments has evolved with technology, and it’s awesome to be able to instantly share great news with family and friends.
What I find sad is that people are losing the ability to have a good old chin wag. In restaurants couples are glued to their phones instead of looking at each other. Psychologists and wellness blogs keep telling us that bedrooms should be a place for intimacy and sleep. Technology in the bedroom apparently leads to less sex as well as sleep disorders. (Seriously, just Google “phones in bed” and see how many articles pop up! But not if you’re in bed reading this!). Are we heeding the advice? Probs not!
Let me disclose here that as I’m writing this (on an app, on my smart phone) my partner is reading a book on his tablet. In bed. Next to each other in the silence. (That’s not actually us in the picture. Obviously, we are younger and cooler! I kid, but seriously…). For introverts modern technology is possibly a convenient escape from the awkwardness of small talk. For extroverts it may be a convenient escape if bored or stressed, though I think as an extrovert myself the lack of genuine conversation is sometimes cause for great sadness. It can be isolating. It can be outright lonely for those that still value human banter.
I really enjoy engaging with people, knowing what’s going on in their lives, how their day was or what’s happening on the weekend. I’m genuinely interested and invested in people I like and love. The art of conversation is what sets us apart from all other species. I love face to face conversations or picking up the phone to reach out.
I was for most of my life a prolific reader. I could read at a very early age and devoured books. I was reading Emily and Charlotte Bronte in Grade 5. Books were a beautiful escape and I learnt about the world. Through books, I developed a desire to see cities like London and Paris, Florence and Mumbai.
At some point though I craved living a life far more than imagining one. I mean no disrespect to books which are amazing and still vital (but give me a paperback any day. I love the feel and smell of paper!). Experiences shared with others still thrill more than silent contemplation.
I’m not just talking about travel or adventures. Food shared with people you love, with brilliant conversation and laughter is so incredibly nurturing for the soul. Watching a great film followed by lengthy debates about its merits is brilliant! Seeing a live gig where you leave with adrenalin still pumping through your veins, followed up with shared reviews, or great sex (depending on who you’re with!).
Human touch, be it a warm hug from an old friend or a bear hug shared with your child, or intimate soul baring skin on skin with a lover is a human hunger.
Are we losing our ability to just be with someone, sharing our hopes and dreams, or talking endlessly about everything and nothing?
I love my smart phone. Believe me. It’s just a part of my life, and I use it for so many things. Blogging, writing, reading emails, texting, taking photos and videos (yes, sometimes of my fluffy dog), watching clips on You Tube, getting from point A to Point B, checking the weather, reading the news…There’s not much it can’t do except, Siri aside, it can’t speak with me. It can’t hold a meaningful conversation or give me a hug. It can’t laugh with me or cry with me, or debate politics, or cook with me…
More and more I see people connecting with technology instead of other people. Silence and solitude can be a beautiful thing. Perhaps there needs to be more balance.
Too much time spent binge watching TV series, chatting on social media, watching porn and playing on your iPad may somehow make us forget our voice, our basic human desires or needs.
I half jokingly call it the indoctrination of the apple. Smart phones, smart watches, smart technology is feeding us information but stripping us of our humanness in some ways, our ability to connect with the real world.
Dating has been reduced to swiping left or right for a hook up, making genuine connections seem less attainable. Emails take precedence over conversations in the office. Take a ride on a train sometime for a sneak peak into how we’ve evolved. There is rarely eye contact between commuters. Instead everyone is staring at a phone or a tablet, like drone like sheep. This makes the rare moment of eye contact with a stranger seem like something startling and surprising. Perhaps that’s why we love Facebook sites such as Humans of New York. Perhaps we’re astounded and intrigued by the lives of others because we no longer feel a sense of community and togetherness. HONY is a heart warming and inspiring project because it dates us to be interested and care about human beings.
Interestingly, when I talk to people, I’m always blown away. Everyone has a story to share if you are just prepared to listen.
It’s easier for people to sit behind a computer and feel less compassion or be more judgemental of the world and everyone in it. We’re not that invested in humanity.
I doubt for example, if a troll sat in front of their object of disdain, chewed the fat and got to know them on a human level, it would be as easy (or necessary) to tear them down.
It could just be me, but it feels like an unnatural state of being. I’m actually glad I grew up in a time where I get to know the difference.
What’s the answer? Surely not turning our backs on evolving technology, but perhaps seeking balance. Making an effort to talk to one another (with our actually voices), making a rule that technology isn’t ok at the dinner table or one night a week, technology has no place in the bedroom. Pick up the phone occasionally. Catch up with friends. Chat to your children about school. Tell your partner your quirkiest thoughts. Turn off your devices and talk people, while you still remember how to!
Do you think technology is stripping us if human-connectivity?