Technology meant to connect us is driving us apart

The growth of technology is, for some, a frightening prospect. And this fear is somewhat warranted since the rate at which technology evolves is mind-blowing.

Take floppy discs for example. Just 30 years ago, top of the range floppy discs would store, at most, two megabytes of data. Contrast that with modern hardware, easily storing hundreds of gigabytes of data.

And what about navigation? It’s been less than two centuries since man navigated the oceans by the stars. Today, microchips in our devices send out signals which are detected by man-made satellites orbiting the earth, which then triangulate your exact location.

Some may feel joy and pride at these human feats. A species overcoming its limitations and threats through great effort and ingenuity. But there are those who are wary of the consequences that this unchecked progress may bring.

For a more tangible example, take social media. With social media being as accessible and widespread as it is, loneliness in the modern era should be extinct, the same way smallpox no longer exists, thanks to vaccines.

But feelings of loneliness and isolation among young adults are increasing at a worrying rate. Conceptually, this makes no sense. How is it that a generation so connected feels so isolated at the same time?

The answer is simple. Simulated communication is no substitute for the real thing. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, when was the last time you met up with your friends for a nice chat?

“But why bother?” you may say, “I can just as easily message them in my group chat”. That’s precisely the issue.

Modern technology has made correspondence so easy and efficient that most people simply don’t bother with real connections anymore.

And the fact of the matter is, the human mind is not built for this digital age. Getting sent a voice message or a text is not the same as physically meeting a friend. And this is the root issue of loneliness in the digital age.

Social media companies have made attempts to solve this problem. First, came the voice call, then, Facetime, and soon, virtual reality meetings; where participants will be able to see the simulated body of other participants while communicating.

While these may serve as a practical and cost-efficient way of conducting virtual meetings, there’s no telling the consequences it could have on the human mind when it inevitably becomes the norm for day-to-day communication.

Perhaps some people will elect to stay in their houses all day long, conducting virtual meetings with acquaintances and substituting the sensation and warmth of the human touch for the cold metal and hardware of digital correspondence.

I may be wrong. Perhaps cyber-correspondence really is the future of mankind. Humans of the future may be purely logical beings, realising the efficiency of cyber-communication over the physical analogue.

Perhaps those who are lobbying for our generation to stop using our computers and phones all day and go outside are stymying the advancement of the human race as we know it.

But what if they’re right?

This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.

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