“We are losing our social skills due to social media!”
“Our cell phones are robbing us of our humanity!!”
“Our screens have become prisons for our minds!!!”
Does any of that sound familiar?
Or what about cartoons like this?
There is this notion, regurgitated with growing frequency, that our technology is turning us into isolated zombies who lack social skills. This technophobic notion is eerily reminiscent of the historically recent, now-debunked claims that video games make kids into violent killers. New technologies scare people. Needless to say, I think this the fear of mobile devices is ridiculous nonsense, but until recently I’ve felt somewhat alone in this viewpoint.
Today I noticed the below comic, which felt like a much-needed breath of fresh air.
So now that this is evolving into more of a discussion, instead of a one sided panic-fest, it’s worth asking, why has the alarmist response been so strong? I think there are multiple reasons.
- People always romanticize the past. You know, the good old days.
“The children now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise.” – Socrates
- Being smugly irritated about the world is is a timeless way to seem cool.
- Finding something simple to blame for complex problems just feels so right and spreads virally.
- People cling to the obsolete belief that one should focus their undivided attention on whomever is within close physical proximity, as opposed to focusing on whomever and whatever they actually want to focus on, which ignores the beauty of mobile communication tech. If you are a stranger on the subway, and I havent talked to mom that day, I would rather speak to my mom than make small talk with you. If I have reading to catch up on, I’d rather do that. On the other hand, if I’m feeling talkative, maybe I’ll start up a conversation, but if you ignore me to post on your daughter’s facebook page THATS TIME BETTER SPENT THAN BULLSHITTING WITH A STRANGER!
Mobile devices, computers, and social media platforms are cutting edge tools of communication. This is an especially profound combination, as it is our tools and our communication skills that have enabled our species to dominate the planet. In a sense, you might say that the mobile communication device is one of the purest expressions of humanity ever created. It is the crystallization of everything we do so well, and it is designed to help us do it even better. This evolving technology enables us to be more interconnected than previous generations could ever have imagined. We can literally communicate with anyone, anywhere at any time! Even the most jaded and cynical eyes must see what an unprecedented miracle this is. But still, in the end, we must acknowledge that these devices, as impressive as they are, are just tools, and it is up to us to decide how to use them.