Modern technologies have drastically changed the world and continue changing it at a constantly growing speed. And it has been considered until very recent that modern technologies are very useful, that they only contribute into overall happiness and comfort of life. However there have always been critics and the number of such critics is growing nowadays, when the speed of progress has become so great. One of the aspects which are particularly debated is whether or not technologies make humans less lonely, less isolated from the society.
On the one hand it would appear that modern people are less isolated due to modern technologies. It has become possible to quickly connect to the people, who are located far away. Social media and instant messengers, as well as services of telephony allow people not only text, but hear each other’s voice, see each other and even play internet games together in real time (Morahan and Schumacher, ND).
Another aspect is the ability to very quickly and effectively travel to almost any part of the world. Places, which would require long weeks of travel to get to only a couple of hundred years ago, are easily accessible nowadays within 24 hours worth of travel. Thus, it is easy to visit friends and relatives, who are located far away and in the past it was almost unthinkable to even deliver a short letter to them within a month’s period of time (Constable et al, nd). Nowadays, provided money is not an issue, one can easily cross the borders, travel to see people whom they desire to meet, and such people may not necessarily be their old acquaintances and friends. Modern technologies have made humans so open to the world and the world so much open to the humans that getting to know or making friends with a person, who is located on the other side of the globe is not a problem any longer.
Social media have made it possible for anybody in the world to communicate to people, whom they would otherwise never meet. The friend list on Face Book is traditionally much longer then the real life friend list of an average person would be only a few decades ago, when social media were not around. Once having at least one friend on Face Book or any similar media, a person has got an access to all the friends of this person, and to the profiles of their friends. Thus, it is easy to find out more about them, drop them a message, comment their messages, and all this seems to very tightly integrate any given person into community (Illich ND). But is it really so?
Though it seems, that isolation is not even an issue in modern society due to modern technologies and particularly due to technologies like Internet and telecommunication services, as well as transportation technologies, in real fact things appear to be somewhat more complex than and not as bright as one would wish them to be. Many experts begin noticing that nowadays people are more isolated because of modern technologies.
Due to a number of new inventions people simply don’t have to leave their homes as often as they used to in the past. Many things have become possible to be done at home, through the Internet, via email, over the phone. Besides, there have appeared numerous equipment which allows to do things at home. As just one example – there is no need to go outside and communicate with people in order to buy bread. There is special equipment which will cook it in due time. There is no need even to ask anybody for a recipe of the bread. This smart device is capable of doing it all. As for the ingredients, well, they can be ordered online and delivered right to the door.
Many children are known to be almost addicted to video games and their computers, smart phones, tablets. Thus, they grow less capable of traditional communication, which results in their having psychological deviations (Wang, Tchernev & Soloway, ND). Even grown-ups are oftentimes victims of such habit. Though the friend list of a person on Face Book may be very long and hard to scroll through, but the number of actual friends and even acquaintances of such a person may be very small (Turkle, ND).
A traditional place where people would get acquainted and make friends or, at least, intensively communicate with each other, is their work place. Nowadays many people work from home, over the Internet, and their communication with the colleagues is oftentimes very formal, if it even exists at all. Often their work communication is limited to the communication with the company’s server – download one file and upload another (Sardeshmukh, ND).
This all only contributes into the isolation of humans from the society. Though the number of people around us is constantly growing, though formally we know more and more people through social media, in real fact we are growing more and lonelier.
Modern technologies are very effective tools for resolving various problems, but on the other hand they ought to be comprehended with reasonable caution. It is important to realize the risks of social isolation associated with too intense use of modern technologies. Though it may seem that modern technologies are making the world wider, people closer and allow us the things, which used to be unthinkable a few decades ago, it is important to understand, that the comfort they provide limit our ability to communicate with people around us in a traditional manner.
- Constable, George; Somerville, Bob (2003). A Century of Innovation: Twenty Engineering Achievements That Transformed Our Lives. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press.
- Illich, BriAnn (2014). “Awareness, Agency, and Alternatives: Opportunities and Challenges for CONAMURI and the Paraguayan Women’s Food Sovereignty Movement in an Age of Social Media.”. Digital Commons, Colby College.
- Morahan-Martin, J., & Schumacher, P. (2003). Loneliness and social uses of the internet. Computers in Human Behavior, 19(6), 659-671.
- Sardeshmukh, S. R., Sharma D., & Golden T. (2012) Impact of telework on exhaustion and job engagement: A job demands and resources model. New Technology, Work and Employment, 27(3), 193- 207.
- Turkle, S. (2012). Alone together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York, NY: Basic Books.
- Wang, Z., Tchernev, J. M., & Solloway, T. (2012). A dynamic longitudinal examination of social media use, needs, and gratifications among college students. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(5), 1829-1839.