More Connected and Alone Than Ever?

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Less than a week from graduation, the air is thick with impending change. As I sit here with the people who helped shape my college experience, surrounded by books and papers scribbled with notes, I try not to breathe the air too deeply. We don’t want to accept that these moments we so regularly share together are soon to be only fond memories. A familiar joke sends us all to laughter and brings one voice to call out, “Take a picture for Facebook or this never happened!”

We live our lives on the internet. With the internet. Perhaps at times, for the internet. We connect, meet each other, date each other, fight each other, and inform each other through this medium. We don’t have to be together to be “together,” and we somehow have arrived at a time when things that happen in “real” life are cheapened if they aren’t documented on the internet. Social media is bringing us all together – but are we more alone than ever?

As I sit here typing this, I am half-heartedly engaged in conversation with my classmates, and they in turn are tweeting and tumbling between contributing to the discussion. Even as we know our time together is reaching an end, we sequester ourselves into our chosen technology. It’s socially acceptable; it’s expected. We celebrate technology and the enhanced lives we live because of its advancements.

And why shouldn’t we?

Technology has irrefutably bettered the world we live in. It has shrunk the world – or our concept of its size. Though oceans may divide us, technology allows us to connect with our friends and family, conduct international board meetings and business transactions, even receive information of cataclysmic events mere minutes after they have occurred. We are more connected to one another than ever before – and its making us all isolated.

The value of face time is being lost in the age of FaceTime. As we exercise more and more control over our social lives, we seem less and less willing to interact in “real” life. Enticed by the illusion of camaraderie without the sacrifice of intimacy, we convince ourselves that we have gained a new medium of communication greater than or equal to genuine companionship. The truth? It may be costing us an essential part of our humanity: authentic interaction.

Technology and all its wonder aren’t going anywhere, nor its ubiquitous role in our lives. We simply must decide when it’s appropriate to let the machines in, and when we are better off just turning them off.