The invention of the internet has provided an innumerable amount of benefits to humans across the world since its inception in 1990. In the twenty-eight years since, humanity has never been more connected, being able to send a message across the world in an instant, a feat which could take weeks or months in the centuries past. We can speak with anyone from China to France, Russia to Israel, or the United Kingdom to the United States. It’s easier to keep in touch with family and friends, and some have even found love through the ever expanding internet. However, this advancement comes at a price. Based on the study of this topic, it has become clear that the internet and technology that utilizes it makes emotional communication less transparent and difficult to interpret, disconnects us from those who we maintain interpersonal relationships with, via the overuse of cell phones and the like, and desensitizes us from those we affiliate with.
Technology and the internet have combined together for years to create a seemingly infinite number of resources and websites for usage to all who have access. More recently, one such resource is online dating sites. Sites like Tinder and Grindr provide the ability to set up relationships without the hassle of getting to know someone in person. But is this necessarily a good thing? In an article by M.D. Alex Lickerman, he explains the dangers of technology in relationships by saying how some may “subtly substituting electronic relationships for physical ones”, and how this may lead to a feeling of ‘social isolation’, a state in which an individual is in complete or near-complete lack of contact between an individual and society. In turn, he explains how people should avoid saying things they would be uncomfortable in person over text. This helps encourage confronting others in a mature manner, and increases transparency with those we associate with.
Media technologies of today have, without question, significantly changed human life in the last few decades. The mere pace of the society around us has increased to levels that those of earlier decades could only have imagined. Much of the world has come into a time in which most goals can be achieved nearly instantly. In fact, we have arrived at the era of instant gratification, in which much work and dedication is sacrificed in the search for convenience and efficiency. Many see the drastically falling value of face to face social interaction as being directly connected to the spike in modern media technology. Communication through electronic devices and social media in particular has advanced by leaps and bounds from as early as the 2000s. With the click of mouse or the touch of a screen people can, be put into contact with others that are hundreds of thousands of miles away. This does mark a definite height of media technology, linking people that would, in another time, not have been so connected, it would seem as though the use of the technology to communicate instantly with typed words on a digital screen has replaced other modes of human interaction.
Younger members of the 21st century have taken to the latest forms of communication, being email, texting, video chat and the like by storm, unlike the past centuries of human existence, where communication was only realistically possible by face-to-face interaction. Physical and intrapersonal interaction has been the standard for all of our time on this planet, but this has rapidly changed in the few decades, though this not exactly an improvement. Communication through technology can remove any and all ability to effectively communicate, by disabling one’s ability to use their charisma, intellect, and intra personal relationship skills altogether. Not to mention that body language, which makes up at least 55% of all communication (Thompson), is completely lost while using an electronic device to communicate. All of this combined means that an individual may never possibly communicate as effectively through technology as they would in person.
Though it is far more advanced than it was years ago, the cell phone holds to its original purpose. It still provides the easiest, most convenient way to contact friends and family. In an emergency, it remains to be the best way to call for help. In terms of the current day and age, one can always send a quick text to ask how a friend is doing. Several million people would not be able to function or go through their daily routine without their cell phone. However, the opposition lives on. Many researchers maintain that the cell phone as it is today, is one the largest distractions to social interaction rather than the aid that others believe it to be. Schools and many work places have banned them, as they seem to continually distract individuals, stopping them from completing their work. Nowadays, it’s possible to walk into a room filled with people that in decades earlier would have been filled with individuals mixing and socializing with each other, but now, could be packed with texters and social networkers gazing down at the screens in the palms of their hands.
It is important for us as individuals to consume new media technologies together which will in part promote togetherness instead of individually. By consuming technology individually, this leads to social isolation. In turn, this can result in a drastic decrease of communication and social interaction in all aspects of life. Though one thing is clear, as the presence of technology in our lives becomes more pervasive, the greater the changes in our interactions will be. As such, we must take care to control ourselves, as the ever increasing exposure to modern media technology may end by destroying all forms of interpersonal communication altogether.