The irony of technology is that while it should be closing gaps and building bridges, allowing us to communicate more effectively – and more often – we are essentially communicating less. We have lost the face to face communication, the human touch, that reminds us all that we are human, not emotionless borgs feeding off of an endless stream of virtual data.
Yet we see it every day, people rushing about, eyes glued to the screens of their phones, communicating in the depths of a digital desert, a barren land devoid of human contact. And all the while they are missing out on the real life experiences happening around them – the ability to talk to a baby and make it laugh instead of watching a laughing baby on a video, the ability to hear the inflection and tone of their lover’s voice instead of just reading the words on a screen.
Even social media isn’t so social. Think about it. How much of what you ‘say’ online would you say to someone’s face? It is easy to hide behind a keyboard because we can say what we want and do what we want and we are still safe. After all, we are first communicating with a computer; the human on the other end is a secondary recipient of our messages.
While this isn’t necessarily saying that technology is bad, per se, there is no argument that it is sometimes misused. We often substitute technology for the realness of human contact – cuddling up to our iPhones instead or reaching out to another person. But it’s easier when you don’t have to deal with the messiness of humanity. Mobile devices don’t talk back.
And our culture is all about easy.
It is easier to type out an email than it is to write a letter by hand.
It is easier to message someone on Facebook than it is to sit down with them and have an actual conversation.
It is easier to ‘check in’ on someone by sending a text instead of making a phone call – or better yet paying them a visit.
Technology has been taken to a level in our lives that it was never intended to see. We don’t have technology; technology has us.
How did we come so far down this road? Technology is a gift. It makes it possible to cure disease, heat our homes, feed the poor, and, yes, close the miles between family members. But somewhere along the way we tipped the scales and turned technology into a god, a god we worship with every click, every like, and the countless moments we invest in choosing it over the real, living, breathing people in our lives.
We are more connected than ever yet less connected than we have ever been. Technology brought us together and we allowed it to isolate us.
So today I challenge you to look up! Write a letter by hand, have a face to face conversation with someone, pick up the phone and call to check on a friend. We don’t have to drown in our technology; we don’t have to stay disconnected. Find a balance, rejoin the world, and touch people.
How will you reconnect today?