Is Technology Making Us Loners?

 

You scroll through your Instagram feed-in silence-while you’re in the car with your family. You Tweet instead of striking up a conversation with your seatmate on the train. You text your BFFs instead of making plans with them, content watching Netflix alone in bed while you’re glued to your phone.  

Is technology making us loners? Are we, as “millennials,” becoming more comfortable with the idea of being alone, yet staying connected 24/7? Let’s think about it: how many minutes each day do we actually devote to technology? Take a moment to stop and think about each time you check your cell, post a status, or upload a picture. Personally, between the texting, Tweeting, Facebooking, Instagramming, and emailing I do on a daily basis, my number probably hovers somewhere around two hours. That’s two hours less time I get each day to read, spend quality time with family and friends (sans the distraction of iMessages or Notifications), be outside, spend time writing, or anything other than staring at a screen. And let’s talk about the glaring irony present: I’m sitting here, typing away on my laptop, writing about how technology eats away at our personal time. Who’s pointing the finger now?

But time and time again, people everywhere have asked these same questions about technology. This argument has even caught the attention of scientists and medical professionals-so much that many studies have been done to figure out if there really are noticeable social side effects from using, and overusing, technology. A recent article published on Forbes online provides some stats about our social networks: those who reported feeling most alone currently are young people under the age of 35, the most prolific of all social networkers. Another recent study found that 48% of respondents only had one confidant compared to a similar study done 25 years ago, when people said they had about three people they could really trust. A study by Harvard Business Review found that team performance went up 50% when teams socialized more and limited email for “operational-only” issues. Clearly, there’s a theme here. We don’t just “become more lonely” as a human race over time. It seems that with the advent of social media, laptops, and apps, we’re choosing screens over personal interactions. Technology definitely has something to do with all of this…but are we going to stop it?

 

In September 2013, the New York Times opened up an online forum to students ages 13 and older to respond to the question: Does technology make us more alone? Some agreed, and some disagreed. Below are some responses:

“I dont think it’s necessarily making us more alone, it just depends on the person and their interests. Some people enjoy sitting and talking and being social, but others enjoy the internet and technology in general. I believe it just depends what you are into.”

“Technology makes us feel more alone because people are too focused on what’s on there screen than what’s in happening in real life. most teenagers are very anti-social, the only time they communicate are through a phone like texting and social networks. they feel like communicating through a phone is much better than communicating face to face. a lot of teenagers dont know how to communicate to people face to face cause they are one, too focused on their phones and two they haven’t learned to do that, no one has bothered to teach them how to talk to people. I believe people should not be so attached to there electronics, so they can focus on the more important stuff.”

“Technology makes us more alone because it makes people socially awkward which leads us into isolating ourselves from the real world and talking less.”

“Technology does make us more alone. Technology negatively influences social interaction, makes our community socially awkward and causes our people to embellish online to be someone they are not.”

“To have a device at our hands causes us to become us to become lonelier. Technology makes us forget the different between being alone and being lonely. In addition, our communication slacks and, sadly, we separate ourselves from the real world to attend a virtual one.”

But even given these opinions, technology has become a necessary evil. We aren’t gonna stop using it, nor will our world ever be technology-free. It’s here to stay. Now, it’s up to us how frequently we use it, and how much we let it dominate our lives. In reality, the real world > the virtual world. The world offers us so much more than a screen ever will. Ultimately, it’s our decision whether or not we view the world through a screen, or with our very own two eyes. 

 

SOURCES:

-http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/09/04/does-technology-somehow-make-us-more-alone/comment-page-14/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

-http://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/05/24/text-or-talk-is-technology-making-you-lonely/