Technology Is Making Us More Alone

When was the last time you attended a gathering where you did not use your phone to kill your time but instead you interacted with people present around you, got to know more about them and enjoyed the event? If you are having a hard time remembering any such event, then take a moment and ask yourself if you are really socializing? Technology is getting in the way of forming meaningful relations and hence its making us more alone.

My parents often share their childhood memories of the interesting conversations they had with their elders, about stories of them visiting their relatives and friends who lived away, or of other people coming to their house to listen to radio and discuss different issues and so on. Hearing about all the naughty and childish things my parents did as kids makes me laugh my heart out but at the same time I often realize that I do not have anything to share but memes. Even if I attend an event I have lots of pictures but no real stories to tell because I was just busy capturing the moments than living them. All I share are problems of poor WIFI connections, not getting time to finish my television series or my posts are not getting enough likes because that is all my life revolves around. Social media has created a fantasy world where everything looks perfect and everybody is successful, and we are constantly changing ourselves to fit in and be socially acceptable. We are trying hard to hide our imperfections instead of embracing them. We click thousands of pictures to just get that one picture where we look perfect and hence put it on social media to get more likes and comments, with every like serving as an external source of validation and happiness. Every other person has achievements to share with people but rarely does anyone admit the failures they have faced, this makes us think that there is something wrong with us if we are not vacationing in Maldives or that we are the only ones experiencing a setback while everyone else is enjoying their lives, it makes us feel alone in our struggle leading to feelings of depression, ungratefulness and isolation.

If we look back at the pre-social media age, loneliness was not as rampant because everybody was so well connected. People had real friends, having long face to face conversations, sharing never ending stories with zest, suspense and curiosity was a proper routine unlike now where just a message replaces all other ways of communication. With time, in person communication is declining which is resulting in social awkwardness, loneliness, and low self-confidence. We find it easier to make virtual friends rather than real life friends. Social media is providing us with alternatives that have restricted our activities and interaction with others. Activities like online shopping gives you a chance to avoid going to malls, though for some it sounds affordable and convenient, but nothing can replace the fun and interaction you have while shopping in store. Likewise, video games have replaced physical sports, hence opportunities like practice sessions and team work have been lost, now instead of meeting new people and interacting with them, you find yourself sitting in your room alone, munching on chips and playing with random virtual friends from some corner of the world. If for instance a guest comes at your house, you will think a thousand times about whether you should go and greet them because you do not want to leave your video game and even if you get the courage to get up, you will just go and quickly greet them so that you can rush back and continue your game as it is more important. While your parents are having an interesting conversation with the guests, you are just focusing on the screen regardless of what is happening around. One cannot deny that features like instant messaging has been quite helpful in connecting us with people who are away, but it’s wrong and excessive use is a point of concern. Activities like cyber bullying are making things tough for many individuals especially teenagers. When you are chatting with someone online, you are unaware of their personality and intentions and this often causes trouble. Victims of cyber bullying have low self-esteem, they try to isolate themselves from people, get depressed and feel vulnerable. At this point you realize that these virtual friends are of no help and that you do need a real friend who is with you in your struggles.

In a nut shell, technology is tearing us apart. Being alone does not mean that you do not have people around, but it is the inability to interact and form a mutual bond of friendship with them. Unchecked use of social media is impacting our abilities to connect with people in real life in a negative way, we are now lost in a virtual world where things are not always simple or real.

13 January 2020
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