Balancing Technology and Real-Life Interaction
Posted for the Post-Crescent
Like it or not, technology and digital media are becoming increasingly integral parts of today’s world.
We are constantly connected through use of our cell phones, blogs, e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and LinkedIn. There are many advantages in being so connected; however, there are also many consequences.
Interactive social media platforms have been at the forefront of the latest technological revolution. These electronic platforms have forever changed human interaction and relationships. With just a few clicks, we are able to reconnect with old friends, classmates, and colleagues, meet new people, share our thoughts, ideas, and feelings, find others who believe in or enjoy similar things, and build and maintain relationships. We find out instantly when there is a job opening, a birth, a break-up, a proposal or an accident. This information is all shared with ease and minimal effort, requiring far less time than face-to-face interaction or a phone call.
Melinda Blau referred to the drastic change in our interaction and socialization as a “Relationship Revolution,” because of the way we are able to consistently stay connected and have very intimate relationships, which due to physical distances and lack of time would otherwise not be possible. Through the use of social media, at any hour of any day we have people listening to us, making us laugh, providing advice or support, sharing information, etc. There’s always someone there, and this can be very validating or even comforting.
The problem then lies in the fact that more and more of our lives are being spent attached to our computers and smart phones. We have traded real human interaction for far more impersonal text messages, e-mails tweets, and status updates.
Furthermore, when we do have personal interaction, we are still constantly checking our e-mail accounts and phones to see if there is anything we need to know about or respond to. We are expected to respond quickly and always be reachable in both our personal and professional lives, and we have come to expect the same in return. This inhibits us from being fully engaged in any setting.
Some of us are even addicted to these forms of electronic interaction, and cannot be peeled away from our electronic devices for more than a few minutes at a time. We are overstimulated, which allows for little to no downtime. This in turn, has negative implications on cognitive processing, learning, and memory.
Technology has undoubtedly impacted our lives in many positive ways, but it is important to be aware of potential pitfalls. The key is to try to balance our use of electronic devices so we do not become overly attached. Limiting our time for nonessential use of the Internet may be another way to eliminate time spent (or wasted) online.
Strategic Solutions Consulting