Sometimes I feel for technology – yes, it pricks my heart when technology is blamed for several things. This week alone has recorded countless posts and articles on whether our kids’ recalcitrance or stubbornness, is tied to technology. Kids are excessively engrossed in Facebook and texting – they can barely think of any other meaningful things to do. People go on and on blaming technology for the ill-behavior of kids.
Now, there tend to be a different trend – the question has been rephrased this way; “Are we getting lonelier with technology?” This is the headline of the Time Magazine recently. This headline is an outcome of an interview with the director and founder of MIT Initiative on Technology & Self – Sherry Turkle.
Sherry just published a new book with the title “Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other” In this book, she argues that the recent massive digital connection rather than ‘one on one’ physical association is impacting relationships negatively.
Much emphasis in Sherry’s book was made on younger kids and teens as well. Concerned about the fast disconnection between parents and kids, as digital communication has taken over. The adults are to get the bulk of the blame. Even at meal times, parents tend to lay hold of their blackberry phones or iPhones. So, kids are now having the opinion that staying connected digitally is the in-thing. The child-parent relationship has now been replaced with e-mailing and messaging.
So, what do you expect, things would only get worse as these young people grow up, since they’ve learnt (by observation) to depend on technology and digital communication. Now, they prefer texting to talking, and would easily push their books aside for a video game. What’s the essence of going out of your way to meet someone physically when you can connect with them fully on Twitter or Facebook?
Well, the argument is not new, it’s been on for a while – even decades past. Previous generations had also blamed technology for (whether a TV, radio or even printing press) the distanced relationships in families and denial of meaningful conversation among friends. Of course, telephone was not exonerated from this blame – they argued that well-written letter has become a rare ‘commodity’ as people now rely so much on the telephone for conversation and communication (both formal and informal communication).
It’s up to us to determine if the communication technological tools would control us, or if we should be the ones to control them. We can choose to improve our relationship with texting, emailing, Facebook, Skype and so on. On the other hand, we can choose to do otherwise. We should be the ones dictating the pace.
Are you among those who feel that technology is impacting our relationships negatively? Can we get lonelier by using technology? We want to share in your opinion.