Technology imposes social isolation

In 1960s America, social interaction was an art form, a discipline nurtured during one’s prepubescent years through to the end of adolescence. These formative years focused on equipping people with the necessary social skills that would allow them to survive and thrive as human beings and as members of society.

However, the evolution of technology led to significant shifts in the way social interaction developed within American homes. This has degraded the nature of such interactions and the resulting relationships within our society in favor of convenience.

The advent of the personal computer was a key event in American history. With the computer arose the prevalence of electronic mail, a form of communication that drastically changed the way people interacted with each other.

Also from the invention of the personal computer came the creation of the Internet, the single greatest technological advancement in social media the world has ever seen. The Internet has given people access to both an exponentially expanding amount of information and to millions of people across the globe.

The interconnectivity of nations and peoples as a result of the Internet has also led to an addictive dependence on its ease of access and usage as a form of communication. As a result of this increased dependence on the Internet, a shift in interpersonal communications has occurred, resulting in a greater reliance upon social media for interaction than on speaking directly with another person.

The presence of media sites such as Facebook and Twitter has had a negative influence on children and teenagers because of society’s increased reliance on these services as central forums of social interaction. Instead of cultivating the ability to interact with others in person, the shift to social media has led to the underdevelopment of these skills which are essential to living a successful and prosperous lifestyle.

Another invention that effectively revolutionized social media was the creation of the smart phone, a multi-media device that allows people to access websites such as Facebook and Twitter while out in public—“out in public” being the traditional hotspot for socializing given the physical presence of other human beings.

Advances in cellphone technology have also contributed to this greater disconnect in personal interaction in regards to the prevalence of texting as a form of communication in today’s society.

Texting is a barrier to communication insofar as it acts as an alternative option to the more personal form of communicating through telephone conversations. Cellphones allow people to ignore the human aspect of contact that has always been central to the functioning of society, and instead rely upon simple phrases and emoticons as an attempt to relay emotions that could be far better expressed in the inflection of one’s voice.

The new iPhone even makes calling information obsolete, replacing a friendly operator with a robotic female assistant named Siri who can answer all of your questions at the push of a button.

Technology has superseded personality, creating a rift between our humanity and the way we interact socially, all the while claiming to connect us better than ever before.

We have become the headphone generation, preferring to listen to our music in silence than utter a single word of acknowledgment to a stranger, perhaps even a friend. Hellos and goodbyes have been replaced with head nods and fist bumps. Emotions are trapped in their emoticon cages, and a person’s voice no longer needs to be heard as long as his cellphone shows five bars of connection.

Spoken words aren’t wasted because social interaction no longer requires them in this new social media-driven world—or so is simply assumed.