With all the advances in technology that have been created with the supposed intent to make staying connected easier, are we in fact the most disconnected generation ever? Email, texting and social networks like Facebook and Twitter seem to have been created to compliment human interaction but for some, have evolved into a substitute for it. And without real intimacy these means of communicating often offer the illusion of connection. I actually had a friend, or someone who I thought was a friend, use Twitter to wish me a happy birthday. Really? Nope, this is unacceptable; if we were still in high school, maybe, but as grown ass women um, no. This is when I thought, “What is happening?”
Obviously we are in a culture that has become all too casual, and frankly, lazy. Sending a thank-you note as opposed to an email seems to be a lost art. Texting as opposed to actually making a phone call to chat seems to have become acceptable. (I don’t understand these women out here who allow a man to communicate with them primarily via text and claim to be in a relationship.) People are even using Twitter to propose! (Now if you can’t have that conversation in person, then you clearly don’t understand the magnitude of marriage and have no business walking down the aisle!) Folks have become so attached to the illusion of staying connected through machines that it seems there is no place that is considered sacred. Businesses have put up signs requesting no cell phone use. And for some reason some think its okay to text and do their social networking in church!
Though I believe we are probably experiencing one of the most isolated and loneliest times in human history, people are using the convenience of technology to stay in touch but are actually becoming out of touch with the value of personal interaction. There’s nothing like getting a note in the mail. There’s nothing like hearing a friendly voice on the phone. There’s nothing like getting a hug from a loved one when you meet face to face. We’re living in a culture where the importance of authentic fellowship is fading.
I’m not a fan of online dating. If it works for you (and I’ve heard some nice stories) great! But I do believe that people met and forged relationships before the internet and will continue to do so. There’s an ad for an online dating site that says “1 in 5 relationships start online.” Let’s look at this. First of all given that this is true, this means that only 20 percent of all relationships begin online. That’s not a very high statistic—at least not high enough to convince the single people these sites try to target with scare tactics that online dating will save them from dying alone. (And it's not mentioned whether or not these relationships actually culminate into committed partnerships.) And conversely, this also means 80 percent of relationships begin in person. This suggests that one can in fact find a mate the old fashioned way-by actually getting out there and living life.
I just think online dating allows for the creation of false identities and we have enough people out here posing as someone else right in your face! Yeah I’m biased, and I do know that not all online daters are mouth breathing losers. Everyone has to do what feels comfortable to find love, and finding love is about being open. But I also think it takes more guts, and yes, more vulnerability to initiate human contact. And I think vulnerability is a key factor in why people have become all too comfortable using technology to communicate.
One can hide behind a profile, email, text or tweet. One can hide on the phone too, but at least you can discern a certain level of tone. But bottom line, there’s no substitute for looking someone in the eyes and seeing facial expressions and interpreting body language. Vulnerability can be suppressed for only so long when you’re looking someone in the grill! Nothing can replicate the intimacy that is achieved and vulnerability that is risked from engaging with people live and in person!
So can we please put down the machines and step into the real world? I encourage you (and myself) to periodically resist the convenience of technology and reach out and touch someone.
What do you think about our culture’s use of technology to communicate?