Technology has destroyed interrelations in the human community. ~ Theodore Roszak
Sometimes I look around my world and realize that living my life in a city, amidst many people, I can feel and be utterly alone. I am keenly aware of the reality that, with evolving technology, I am able to exist with very little interaction with people. When I was growing up there were many pieces of our daily existence that required interaction with other individuals…. today that is occurring less. Technology is able to replace people and as a result we are not developing the same sorts of relationships we once did. Do you know your grocer? Do you even have a grocer? Do you know your neighbor’s name? (I actually do know my next door neighbor’s name, but I could not tell you the names of the individuals in the apartments on the other floors of my building……)
Computers can be used for almost anything – I can socialize with a book club all online, meet people, and get support for any physical ailment I may think I have (based, of course, on self-diagnosis through Dr. Google).
True confession – I have not gone grocery shopping (real grocery shopping) for over a year. I buy groceries weekly online. The total time it takes me to shop is between 5 and 10 minutes. The site saves my master list and I edit it as necessary on a weekly basis. The food is delivered the next day during the time period I select. This is so convenient – and the time I save is well worth the small delivery fee. I do not see new products and I no longer run into friends and colleagues at the market, as I do not go. I am happy to utilize my time in new ways, but I do understand this practice allows me to isolate myself more if I choose to.
I no longer go to bookstores, I use my Kindle or Nook (yes, I do have both!) I now get computer generated recommendations for the latest releases instead of human recommendations. I no longer converse about the merits of a particular book over another – I read the customer reviews and make the best decision I can.
I do not need to go to the movies, as I can have movies on demand streamed to my computer. While I love that I do not have to listen to loud teenagers or watch the newly matched couple suck each other’s faces off in front of me while I am trying to concentrate on a movie, I think there was something special about being in the midst of people and reacting to the movie together, even when we did not know each other.
Dating has changed immensely as a result of the internet – in fact, most people I know today met their spouse online…. or met them at a group they found out about online. As our community dwindles there are fewer opportunities to meet people. If you are not a bar hopper or a church goer, it can limit your opportunities, particularly if your workplace is small or you are in a career that seems to be biased towards one gender over another (i.e.: I work in schools and that is not an easy place for a woman to meet a man as the women outnumber the men incredibly).
When I go to the bank, post office, or gas station I rarely see people anymore – I interact with a machine to get what I need and move on. It is quicker, it is more convenient (arguably), it probably keeps costs down……. but the connection is gone.
THEREFORE, it is critical that we seek places where we can connect with other people. Some do this through sports, classes, or at the gym, others join dating services or book clubs, some people choose to join groups focusing around a specific hobby such as theatre, crafting, or hiking. The key is to make sure to put in the effort to reach out to others and include yourself in society – to make sure you are interacting and connecting with others in capacities other than at your place of work or school.
How do you connect with others?
Today, 302 days ’til 40, I will be more conscious of my connections with others. While I greatly enjoy the online/ virtual community (particularly the blogging one!) I will remember how critical it is to reach out to my physical community. Life remains a balancing act, and that act is critical. I hope you find the balance in your life too.
April 25, 2012 at 00:16
It all depends on how one uses technology. Computers have actually improved my community.
Being in transition means that I need a lot of support. Through the Internet, I’ve found various resources including a transgendered parents support group. Through automated email notifications, I’ve found opportunities to connect with others and I’ll be volunteering at the Gender Spectrum conference this summer. If it weren’t for the Internet, I’d never even had heard of Gender Spectrum.
Do I know my grocer’s name? No, but I know the names of some of the staff at the grocery stores I frequent. I’ve seen few of my neighbors in my apartment building, but I do know the name of one and we do talk when we see each other.
Staff at one of the store even joke with me about me knowing the layout of the store better than the staff as I’m in there so often. But I don’t have a car, so I have to shop often, buying only what I can carry home. I can also use the Internet to locate the most convenient farmer’s markets to public transit.
I don’t have an e-reader yet; I have a library card. I use my computer to browse the library’s database. I then put items on hold and go pick them up.
I can’t really comment on online dating yet, as I’m still trying to figure out how this is done. Since I need coins to do my laundry, I’m reguarly interacting with staff at my bank (well, credit union, actually).
And also through Facebook I learned of a queer-friendly skating event that happens once a week a short bus or train ride from my home.
So for me, using a computer to access the Internet has actually improved my community. Finding queer- and transgender friendly resources and events would be much more difficult without technology.
April 25, 2012 at 07:42
Very good point – I think the most important point you make is that there are times when the internet is so valuable because it allows us to connect in ways we could not and create virtual community – with people in the same boat we are in. It is true, if you have a situation that is unique, then the internet allows you to connect with others who can relate, no matter how far away. I had a similar situation when I adopted my second child – my first is from China and my second is from Ethiopia – I found a group of parents with one Chinese child who were now adopting from Ethiopia…. it was amazing.
April 25, 2012 at 00:24
I met Steve online. He was in the U.K. and I am in Australia and now, 13 years on we are both in Australia. I was only just talking to Steve about this exact topic the other day. My son is just on his way over to meet a woman that he met online in the USA in June and we were talking about how small the world is becoming. You are right about how technology has made it easier to bypass general society (and the queues and long lines in some cases) but we were also talking about the other side of society, where lonely, shy, disabled and aged people can form online communities and feel part of society where they might have been left out previously. Technology has allowed people to live ‘virtually’ where they might not have found it possible prior to what we have today. As with everything, there are good and bad points about technology and I think that “time saving” is great but why are our lives tangled up so badly these days that we can’t find time any more? Isn’t it just that we have crammed our lives full of bampf so that we can afford to buy all of these “time saving” devices in the first place? We find families where both parents are never home. Where they work 2 jobs each just to pay for the mortgage, the cars, the childcare (how ironic) and the quality of life can only be measured in degrees of stress and why are we doing that to ourselves in the first place? Is it truely important to have “everything” and why are we measuring our personal success on how many material posessions we have in the first place? We all need to think about who is telling us to purchase all of this time saving technology in the first place and choose wisely as to what we choose to opt into and why. Cheers for another thought provoking post 🙂
April 25, 2012 at 07:45
Very good points! I do, like you, wish that success could be measured by important things (like happy families and love) instead of by collection of material possessions. I also agree that the internet has created many romances (and friendships) that otherwise would have never been possible. As with many of my recent posts, it all seems to be about balance.
April 25, 2012 at 00:28
i agree, computers have changed more than we even thought they could
April 25, 2012 at 07:45
Which is a bit crazy, and amazing… and maybe slightly scary! 🙂
April 25, 2012 at 00:56
At times I’d like to have a lot of friends. Friends, not just acquaintances (both have become quite synonymous with Facebook). But I also enjoy my solitude a lot. It allows me to create, to dive in my own world. I guess if I had many friends I’d be going out a lot more. I’d have a chance to experience things that would in turn nurture my creativity. I know I need to work on my social skills but I am not in a hurry.
I think the disintegration of the social fabric started long before the computer age. In large cities, there have been countless stories of people that have been deceived and duped by malicious people. Excessive caution is now one of the factors that “contribute” to this isolation age. But at the same time, the Internet is such a wonderful tool to connect with like minded people that I must say it is doing more good than harm (to me at least)
April 25, 2012 at 07:46
Such good points… particularly the excessive caution… it is true, we do not trust each other like we used to, which is very sad.
April 25, 2012 at 01:03
I have been thinking along the same lines recently, but more focused on cell phone use. It used to be you’d walk down the street and say hello to people who passed by. Now we look down at cell phones and only converse with those we know. We stand in grocery aisles not saying hello to a stranger next to us, but saying hello to someone already saved on our cell phones. We have eliminated the need to meet anyone new. There isn’t hardly anyone I pass on the street who isn’t looking down at their cell phone.
And why do we really need to know who is calling at every minute of the day anyway? What happened to a landline where people left a message, and we went about our daily business without phone call interruptions?
April 25, 2012 at 07:48
Yes, yes, YES! I have had these same thoughts so many times. I agree with you! I see that families get together and instead of talking, they are all posting on Facebook and doing other things – even if they have not seen each other in a long time! Spending time together can be sitting on a couch next to someone without any further interaction. Sometimes my partner and I laugh as we play scrabble online against each other while sitting next to each other (we could get out our “old fashioned” scrabble board). 🙂
April 25, 2012 at 01:24
I might steal this idea for a blog post of my own. Of course, I would link back to yours for giving me the initial idea. Otherwise, my comment might be reaaaaaly long.
April 25, 2012 at 07:49
Please post a link to your blog if you write on this topic (in the comments) so that the readers can see all that you have to say on this topic. 🙂
April 25, 2012 at 01:57
It’s mad … but I’m the same .. and I hope the computer crashes … *smile – I don’t buy my groceries. because I love to go in the store and look at everything. My bank don’t have any money anymore … so online. Terrible really and it scars me sometimes, still I have to go and chat with the guys in the candy shop when I send and collect my parcels. Done the dating, but that’s so hard as in real life – still I know 3 couples that met online and lived happily so fare. *smile Please, don’t let the PC crash.
April 25, 2012 at 07:54
Yes, sometimes I think everything would be better if all the computers crash (then panic sets in, and I realize I am so dependent – particularly at work – that I would be devastated)……. I know the people (sort of) at the little store across from our apartment that we go to when we run out of milk or bread and do not need to place a large internet order…. and I also know some of the people in the clothing stores we frequent…….. hmmmm…. we need to get out more! 🙂
April 25, 2012 at 08:38
Totally agree … it’s so scary!
April 25, 2012 at 02:21
I love reading you. Your posts always get me thinking 🙂 While I love the conveniences technology facilitates, I am a very social creature. If I do not get outta my writer’s chair and obtain enough face-to-face time with humans — especially family members and friends — I go bonkers. Trips to my gourmet grocer (5 minutes away), library (I have a Kindle), cinema (only 1x every 6 months, but usually with girlfriends), restaurants (again date nights with hubby, couples, girlfriends, etc.), museums, zoos, boutiques, DSW, etc. make my days/nights more meaningful. Book reviews are a way I select books. Sometimes I obtain those through Amazon/online customer reviews. But, I also read reviews from members of my blogging circle and seek out recommendations from my hair stylist and sister. http://kateschannel.wordpress.com/
April 25, 2012 at 07:57
Thank you so much for the compliment! I wish I was like you and had the need to be more social – I think the technological age is really bad for those who tend to be more introverted, like me (yes, ironically I have a staff of over 30 working for me, but am a complete introvert)…….I need to go to all the places you mention more often – I always enjoy them when I get there, but motivating myself to leave the house after work or on the weekends is often a challenge for me. I also get book recommendations from people in my community, which I love – I love reading (though lately I have been reading more blogs than books!!!) 🙂
April 25, 2012 at 13:52
My husband tends to be more introverted and needs his time at home without a lot of human interaction. I believe that’s because (like you) he’s around a lot of people at work. I am a stay-at-home mom. To obtain the daily dose of in-person, adult interaction I need, I have to get out of the house.
Cooking with Kella
April 25, 2012 at 02:33
I sooo can relate to this…well I still do go to the grocery store, but I agree that the human interaction with one another has diminished, which is quite sad in a way. It is nice to know your neighbors and chat with them from time to time or even borrow a cup of sugar. Now if I need a egg, a cup of sugar, I got to stop everything and head to the grocery store.
April 25, 2012 at 08:09
Yes, so sad, isn’t it! I am glad I do know my one neighbor and we do actually borrow sugar, chairs, etc. back and forth…. thankfully we have that…. but I agree, there are many things that we just go out and buy because we no longer have the close resources to borrow.
April 25, 2012 at 02:56
I hadn’t considered this but I can see your point of view. I manage a large department at work, so have lots of interactions there. I never thought about getting groceries online – what a neat idea. i’ll have to see if I can do that here. good post. thanks
April 25, 2012 at 08:10
Oh no! My post influenced you to buy online and have less interactions with people!!! 😛 (just kidding, I LOVE purchasing groceries online!!!)
April 25, 2012 at 02:59
I probably know more about you than I do any of my neighbors, and several people I consider good friends, I’ve never laid eyes on. It is indeed a different world we live in. I don’t know that it’s all bad though. If it weren’t for the Internet, would I try harder to know my neighbors. I doubt it; people were pulling into their shells long before the Internet came along.
An excellent write. Certainly gives us much to think about.
April 25, 2012 at 08:54
Thank you so much for the compliment – and so very true, isn’t it? We do get to know our online community more than our neighbors… I do think it has a place, the question is – what is it’s proper place? Definitely food for thought!
Petar Sardelich LMFT/PT/MAC
April 25, 2012 at 03:16
This particular thing matters to me a lot. For many years I was part of a big and deep artist community that surrounded a local coffee shop. Musicians, film makers, writers, visual artists, performance artists, and the local schools (Art Center, Caltech, PCC) had groups of people that all gathered there.
Once overtaken for reasons I won’t labor here in interest of brevity, we found ourselves adrift. I’ve had a taste of what that sort of community can be like, and I miss it greatly. I also feel a deep responsibility to it, and try to recreate it as possible.
It seems some is due to Cyberberia (as I call it), but I also wonder if we’re less apt to do so for other reasons as well. Economic considerations, increased xenophobia (for lots of reasons), maybe even a simple diminished sense of What Matters.
Joseph Campbell I’ve heard is credited with the quote, “Always connect.” That idea means a lot to me, as I spend a lot of time wondering what else we’re here for. It’s certainly not money, property, and prestige.
April 25, 2012 at 08:57
Very good points….. it may be that we are reluctant to create community for reasons other than internet realities. I, like you, have experienced community in the past and it was really a gift to me. I miss that community and can feel adrift too – and as you say, you then seek to recreate it (which I suppose happens if you are fortunate, but not always)…….. I think some still find community in their religious affiliations, workplaces, hobby groups, etc….. for some it is easier than others. I agree with Campbell – we do need to always connect. Thanks for the thought-provoking comment!
April 25, 2012 at 04:04
I’m conscious of choosing people connections whenever I can e.g. at my supermarket there are self-service and operator-serviced lanes. I try to opt for the person each time, look ’em in the eye, smile, chat to those who want to chat, and say thank you. Sometimes I just want to get in and get out, but I think that choosing to be served by a person helps keep jobs. I buy my fruit and veg at a farmer’s market five minutes down the road. I love going, as you get to know the vendors and I like knowing my money goes directly to them; plus I often run into friends there.
April 25, 2012 at 08:58
I love that you consciously choose the same person so that you can make those connections – what a great idea!
April 25, 2012 at 15:47
Good for you! When I worked part-time as a cashier at a store there were people who would make a point of telling me that they would not go to the self-service lanes because of people’s jobs and because they wanted to chat a little. Chatting a little with people was the best part of my job.
April 25, 2012 at 04:32
I must say that I think about the same thing quite often. I actually cringe when I think of what a new relationship would bring: nervousness, the dating, the questions. It all seems like a hassle, actually, which is pretty sad. I’ve made attempts at online dating in the hopes that it would serve as an impetus to get me out of the house, but I found ways of getting around that. Excuses and more excuses. I’ve even joined meetup groups to force myself out. I invited a friend to a dinner, didn’t go but she did and found her soulmate. It’s now her mission to get me out of the house, but she’s failing, lol. I feel like because of my background as an exotic dancer, I’ve used up all of my socializing energy. I don’t want to hang out in bars, I find meeting new people to be a nerve-wracking experience and I have no idea how to flirt anymore. It’s all gone – even when people flirt with me.
I am your post. Your post is me, lol. If you figure out how to break the passive socialist habit, let me know. Thanks so much for sharing!
April 25, 2012 at 09:01
Thank you so much for sharing your story here (part of it, that is) – I think many will be able to relate… and I do think that burnout can effect our unwillingness to connect… or this strange dichotomy of wanting connection, but fearing and avoiding it at the same time – life experiences can do that to us at times. I think life also goes in seasons – and there are times when we have the energy to socialize more than other times…..
April 25, 2012 at 04:33
It is so true that if we don’t make an effort to ‘meet and greet’ so to speak we lose something…I am less outgoing than my husband…he loves talking to anyone and everyone and so we do know our grocer’s name, pharmacist’s name,doctor’s receptionist’s names and just about every other person we are in regular contact with. We do know several of our neighbour’s and we sometimes have a barbecue in the summer just to shoot the breeze.
I also meet people through the computer more than my husband, and interact that way …blogging and facebook…
I think we have a good balance….Diane
April 25, 2012 at 09:02
Diane, that sounds wonderful – it seems that between the two of you you have created a great balance of computer and in-person connection and support…. I think the balance you have may indeed be the answer to this question/ reality. Thanks so much for sharing!
April 25, 2012 at 04:35
It’s funny. When I first started using the computer, I thought it would bring the inhabitants of the world closer. Instead, we are becoming increasingly isolated. I hear my grown children’s voices less and less, while honing my typing skills.
April 25, 2012 at 09:03
So very true! You know, when I first started in the schools parents had to call when there were questions/ issues/ etc – or write a handwritten note… now most communication happens via email….. times have changed.
April 25, 2012 at 04:47
Lighten up. Don’t be a Luddite.
April 25, 2012 at 09:04
Your comment made me laugh! Thank you! Now, the question is, “How many readers know the definition of Luddite?” 🙂
April 25, 2012 at 19:03
The dictionary is online now. Google will give a larger array of articles.
April 25, 2012 at 06:10
on the other hand the net helps you stay connected to those you may live far away from..:)
April 25, 2012 at 09:04
Very true! 🙂
April 25, 2012 at 07:04
Those are some excellent points… I too met my wife online… we’re now getting divorced, so make of that what you will LOL
I would argue that computers haven’t crushed community, they’ve redefined it. I didn’t know my neighbour’s name before the internet came along. Well… actually, I knew two of them, to be fair. The one who made all the noise I avoided like the plague.
I have found, in the past and in the present, a real, genuine community online through sites like WordPress and messageboards. Sometimes things can get ugly, but more often than not, there are some genuinely nice people out there who care.
Does it replace real-world human interaction? Absolutely not… and it never should. But I see no harm in making the most of it eiither 🙂
April 25, 2012 at 09:06
Good point, we can look at computers as a redefinition of community. I will agree with you, I have also found some wonderful, caring communities online – sometimes more caring than the in person ones. I also agree that we can make the most of using the resources, while understanding it does not replace real-world connections. 🙂
April 25, 2012 at 07:55
I’m one of those who grew up with rotary phones and party line. LOL! Now I have facebook. I’m missing ‘the old days’. I have, in fact, been known to take ‘facebook vacations’, or rather, vacations from facebook.
April 25, 2012 at 09:26
ME too!!! 🙂
April 25, 2012 at 09:52
I can relate to this post. I also do nearly all my shopping on line, have an on line bank account, I work at home on-line and on the telephone. Whilst I have some wonderful on line friends I agree with you that real people are irreplaceable. And yet sometimes it feels like such an effort. I have to mentally slap myself and get out there. Once there I really enjoy myself and realise how much I missed human contact. I wonder if there will come a time we will not have this need.
April 26, 2012 at 00:48
Yes, it does seem like such an effort and that is ALWAYS my dilemma!!! Like you, I realize that I do need the connections, however, and have to work towards strengthening them.
April 26, 2012 at 09:18
I wish you the best of luck with it. I find that the more I socialize the more I want to do it again and the less of an effort it becomes.
April 25, 2012 at 10:07
I use my computer on a daily basis – mostly for work, and I do have a blog. However, apart from that, I spent very little time online, and I am not on any social network. My shopping is done in the local butchery, bakery, cheese shop and supermarket, and Sunday morning visits to the market are a must. It is great to get outside and connect to people. As we life in a different country as our families and friends, the computer (mainly email and a bit of skype) is a way of keeping in touch – but mostly, an old-fashioned phone call will do.
And I rather spent my weekend outside digging in the vegetable garden, or inside playing with my daugther, than trolling the net.
April 26, 2012 at 00:47
Ah yes, getting into nature can be so wonderful! I have to work on getting out more and connecting… it is my downfall – since I work 50-60+ hours a week, on the weekends I prefer to be in my bed in my pajamas!
April 25, 2012 at 15:50
A very thought-provoking post…like an earlier reader, I may post on the same topic with a ping-back to you. It sounds like you love technology and its time-saving features, but you CAN make a point of interacting people face-to-face if it is important to you…it is a matter of choice sometimes. But you touch on that with the comment about the groups: hiking,gym etc.
April 26, 2012 at 00:46
Thanks so much!… I agree, we can make the choice to be more connected when/ if we want to!
April 25, 2012 at 16:12
Reblogged this on Sued51's Blog and commented:
This is a very thought-provoking blog. My husband and I often have conversations regarding the use of computers as tools rather than as the center of your life. I may be old fashioned, but I value chance encounters with strangers and often record them in a notebook for future writing. For example the following: My husband and I took a walk in a local mall because the weather outside was cold and snowy. They just added a Nordstrom’s so I wanted to check it out. The best way to check anything out is to use the bathroom (how big is it? how clean is it?). Two women were right behind me when I walked in. As we each went into stalls (since it was a big bathroom), one woman said, “How about that…there’s a lucky penny in my stall.” This prompted me to look down, “I’ve got a lucky quarter in mine!” I said. The third woman said, “Bummer…there’s no money in mine. I picked the wrong one!” We all started laughing. Great moments in life with perfect strangers…
April 26, 2012 at 00:45
What a great experience! Thanks for sharing this wonderful bathroom story! 🙂
April 25, 2012 at 17:15
As others have said, computers link people who’d never otherwise meet in any sense. I discuss poetry with people in the U.S. and in India without leaving my home. Remember, too, how recently people had to do without phones. That someone the other side of the world is able to phone a loved one is marvellous compared to how things were. Computers also make finding out information massively easier and make it harder for dictatorships or media empires to control information.
But there are disbenefits. Electronic communication, especially with people you don’t know by other means, is one-dimensional and misunderstandings and rising anger happen much more easily where there are no clues to either party from body language, facial expression or even what the telephone provides, tone of voice. People become addicted to instant communication and can’t stand silence or an hour out of contact, which means they miss the wonder and glory of silence. While it’s wonderful that we can link with people with the same problems, loves, interests, orientation or whatever across the world (provided, for the English speakers, they speak English), there is even a danger in this. Before not only the internet but the car, close communities could be limiting, but people knew they had to get on somehow and the church and the pub brought together the whole gamut of what was in the community. Now we can organise our lives so we speak nearly all the time outside work with like-minded people – and the rise of homeworking and a contract rather than a full-time job culture may limit even our work contact with people not like us. That to me is a loss and a danger.
April 26, 2012 at 00:44
Wow, I agree with everything you said – great comment!
April 25, 2012 at 17:18
It seems ironic, that in an over populated world, a person can very easily be lonely!
God created us for interaction with others and so, naturally, we need the companionship and fellowship of people! Computers and technology are wonderful innovations, but nothing compares to talking with a good person, face-to-face; receiving or giving a hug or sharing news with another.
Hurrah for machines – but I say, Amen, for good people to share our lives with too!
check my submission @ brucegreysimcoe.com (after the storm). please vote for it, if you think it worthy?
April 26, 2012 at 00:44
Thanks for your great comment! Yes, it is weird that in our crowded world there are many lonely people… ironically, there was a time in my life when I was very lonely and I was often the loneliest when I was around other people!
April 25, 2012 at 18:41
… sometimes I don’t leave the house for a fortnight. I think my record is 25 days. It’s bad, but it can be good too 😀
April 26, 2012 at 00:41
Wow, I think the longest I went was about a week……
New Hampshire Garden Solutions
April 25, 2012 at 21:08
Saying that “technology has destroyed interrelations in the human community” is like my saying that the saw I was using cut my finger off-or the gun i was holding shot me in the foot. Is it the fault of technology that we choose to sit and use it all the time instead of interacting with each other? I think if we are looking to blame someone or something for our failure to interact, maybe we should begin by looking in the mirror.
April 26, 2012 at 00:37
🙂 I agree, the technology in and of itself is indeed not evil, it is the way we choose to utilize them and the place and space we give them in our lives – great comment!
April 25, 2012 at 21:28
Personally, I think the internet has many benefits – like anything (?) it can have a downside but it is up to people to make use of it in a way that enhances their life rather than detracts from it.
As a 24/7 parent whose family live a long way from me, it is great that I can have a social life in the evenings via the internet. Not that I lack a social life in real life. It simply means that I can blend the two and feel more connected than I otherwise would.
April 26, 2012 at 00:36
You are very correct…. like you, I have often used the internet as a place to connect when I was limited due to life circumstances, etc…. it can be a tremendous help.
April 25, 2012 at 22:08
You are absolutely correct. Many great points made. If we are not careful technology will make hermits of us all. It is upto us to stay human.
April 26, 2012 at 00:35
Yes, we do not want to all turn into hermits!
April 26, 2012 at 01:14
April 26, 2012 at 00:09
Even those who do get out and about have a distinctly different perspective on community. I’m up on you by a few years, ‘Almost 40’, but as a teen, about to graduate, we were very animated. These days, I’ve noticed teens at malls and in fast food places – they do get about – but once they sit down, the gadgets come out and the laughter and chatter ceases. It’s all texting. It’s downright eerie. I see nothing wrong with eliminating the grocery store, but then, I never seem to have enough hours in a day to “get it all done”. Maybe the time can be transplanted into a more communal experience; a meal with friends, a local tavern, doggone – a trip to the park. I don’t have answers, but feel this as a great loss. Face to face, we never really show all of ourselves to others, but screen to screen, a person can be anything they fabricate themselves to be. Most don’t fabricate, but many do. One never truly knows the person on the other end of the keyboard.
I like your blog – and tend to like things that make one ponder. Thank you for ‘liking” my Nightime Incantation.
April 26, 2012 at 00:30
Thank you so much! Yes, I have noticed the same things you have about ten interaction and it is really weird, isn’t it? It is also true that we never really know the people in cyberspace… I had a friend who said and did so much more online because he felt safer hiding behind a computer screen… I think this is very common.
April 26, 2012 at 01:03
I make sure to go outside every day. 🙂 Well, I pay attention to how I’m interacting. I’m right at one of the last generations to start off mingling in the real world instead of having ‘social media’ at my fingertips all the time, and it’s hard for me to treat online interaction the same way I treat real interaction. Yes, a lot of it in real life is garbage–hi, how are you, smile smile–but I’m convinced it’s neurochemically important. The Internet always takes second place to my real life socializations.
April 26, 2012 at 22:52
I think that is the healthiest reality, when it can work for people. I agree with you…… I am out almost every day due to work, but I must admit I greatly enjoy a full day at home in my pajamas too! 🙂
April 26, 2012 at 18:06
So true and so sad. I resist technology as much as I can.
My work has a post office box, so I go twice a week to pick up the mail (it’s a small town, I always see someone I know). I always go to a bank teller. I never use ‘self checkout’ at the grocery store, Home Depot, or Walmart. (we organized a men’s group to assist seniors with minor home maintenance and repair in aisle 6 of Safeway). I read real books (although I do own a Kindle, partially because I don’t want to move all my books again.) I craft in a guild. I am heavily involved in my church. I volunteer. I could just as easily work at home, but I go to the ‘office’ five days a week. I almost never leave a voice mail. I phone first, using email only as a last or less expensive resort. I deliberately leave my cell phone at home when we golf, go out to eat, when I worship at church. Typically I forget to take it with me the rest of the time. I hate the ‘trending’ segments on the news (who cares?) and no longer pay attention or else my blood pressure goes up because it is so irritatingly stupid! Technology is a useful tool (electirc sewing machines, gas stoves, running water for example), but not the be all.
April 26, 2012 at 22:32
What a great way to handle technology – I agree… it is a great control, when we are able to control it (as you do) instead of allowing it to control us.
April 26, 2012 at 21:20
Texting is the one that annoys me most. I work in retail and it’s so frustrating, the amount of people with their heads down, texting away, and totally oblivious to all the people around them, including their own family members.
I’ve observed people texting non-stop for over 15 minutes while trying to shop….overload in my opinion.
April 26, 2012 at 22:28
I agree! 15 minutes while trying to shop is insane!
April 30, 2012 at 07:34
The connection to most people in my life has been cut-off, or limited long time ago for many reasons. I work in a very chaotic environment (airport), which gives me a daily dose of thousands of faces, voices and the never ending intercom and last call for passenger such and such who is missing his flight cose he had to go buy something at the duty free before boarding. So when I get off work, and I have a day off, I tend to stay home, I tend to go to places where there’s the least amount of music, noise, conversation and people from the tables around me or the places itself. I tend to spend over 24 hours in bed with plug ins in my ears and a scarf to cover my eyes from daylight. Can u really blame me??? When I meet someone I wanna feel good about it, if such person starts to make me nervous, or irritate me with his idiotic behavior, I get up and leave. There are myriads of insignificant others in my life, so the only way not to go postal on them is to limit my exposure to such individuals at all cost.
April 30, 2012 at 15:51
I feel the same way often – after 10 hours at work where my job is all about people, after work I just want to be at home and away from it all. I am a total weekend hermit. I HATE crowds…. I wonder if it is the work reality. I also wear plugs in bed… I want total silence when I sleep! I also agree with you, I can be very quick to judge people when they have a personality trait I do not gravitate towards, like lots of negativity… I do not want that in my life if I can help it……. not easy…. on the other hand, we need to socialize with people more than at work.
May 1, 2012 at 06:27
Indeed we have to, but truth be told, I’d rather be alone than with people I know I’ve got nothing in common with and have nothing to contribute to my life, or just a simple conversation. I’m not the smartest kid on the block, yet I have a long life experience and thus I can’t just settle for anyone to be part of my life, family included.
April 30, 2012 at 14:52
If I may, I think you are over-generalising here. I haven’t read any of the other comments so if Im repeating, feel free to skip.
You’re not wrong in that the local community and knowing your neighbours and such things are definitely taking a hit – though things like not shopping even for groceries or vegetable in person, thats a personal choice and Im afraid I think its patently unfair to blame computers for it.
Here in India, there are folks like myself who are very wired (many who are even more so) and as you are aware I think, I.T is a huge and growing industry here + with being the country with the cheapest and most prolific telecom on the planet right now, literally EVERYONE who wants a phone, has one. And today, with 3G more and more common, GPS, being online, smartphones and all that… well its a whole new world.
However, the basics don’t change. Sure, I order online. But I also LIKE to go out. I realise that I can find every single book I want online and order it, but I still love to go to the bookshop and bargain hunt and browse and the same for vegetables and most anything. The net for me and most people I know is to research and order only if you can’t pick it up nearby.
It’s a mindset and I think it’s like being fat – it’s easier to blame the fatty food than to say “maybe I shouldn’t eat so much and get off my fat arse and step out for a bit.” You know what I mean?
And as far as community goes, I feel that in the increasingly maddening pace of life, deadly competition at every single level and aspect of life and work and all that it entails (in cities without any doubt!), the internet actually helps instead of kills it. Most people neither want nor care to know their neighbours and don’t want to be nice unless it serves a purpose or you’re just awesome. But they still look at what they gain. It’s a selfish new world.
That said, those of us – clealry yourself included – who want to be community minded or have people in your life that goes beyond vain socialising and tripe of that nature (which is a waste of life if you ask me), the net brings us people who are of like mind, some who are of differing mindset and of similar and varied tastes.
The entire comics industry in India (of which Im a part) which practically did not exist until 3 years ago and was always “a kids thing” (to the point that tintin and archie were peoples ideas of comics and thats what you got except in a few select places) – well today Marvel and Disney are coming here and this past february we held our second ever Comic Convention and are raising awareness and kids are coming out and playing and reading and not using computers and staying locked in rooms but running around in an open space, amused by their comic heroes around them and parents are happier too. In fact, the terribly scattered community of comic, video games, movies and books (not just bestsellers – books!) and people with more open and progressive minds are connecting and meeting and staying in touch and if you lived here you’d see the nascent stage of a potential intellectual and creative revolution of sorts. The same applies to movies and music by the way.
It’s only a step and only a small example, but I wanted to tell you this to show that the Internet and computers are nothing but highly powerful tools – what we make of them is our choice, our burden and our responsibility to live with in the end.
Anyway, hope I didn’t come off harsh – if you worry about too much usage, I say simple use it less and step out more. 😉
April 30, 2012 at 15:44
Wow, thank you so much for sharing! You brought up so many important points. I tend to be very America-centric in my blog, which is not necessarily a good thing (just part of what I know) – and I do think that there are many experiences out there that are very different from the American experience – and, frankly, it would be a good thing for Americans to get off their couches and get out and go visit these places and learn all that we have to learn from the other wonderful countries in our world. I happen to work with a lot of families from India (and all over the world) in my job and I must say I can’t wait to visit one day!
May 1, 2012 at 10:01
Happy to help and don’t beat yourself up, we always tend to focus on the familiar and our lives first and foremost – its an act of conscious will and logic to push yourself out of the comfort zone and see the bigger picture. You do that better than most I’ve seen in a lot of ways, it’s why I’ve appreciated some of your other posts.
You’re absolutely right that Americans need to do that and if I’m fair and honest about it, that works both ways – there are a lot of things that more conservative and developing nations would, I wish, learn from countries in the west.
If you do come to India, plan carefully because there is waaay too much that people want to do when they get here (I’ve seen it happen too often) and unless you have a lot of time on your hands it kills your trip to be running all the time in a place so very different from the States. If you need any advice and I’m still blogging, feel free to ask.
May 1, 2012 at 17:27
Thanks so much!