To say that we are a society that functions through technology is an understatement.
If I can’t find my phone I have a mini panic attack until I hear it ring.
For me much of my connection to connecting is work related. I am always afraid of missing that important email or call that a story is breaking and I am missing it. But even when I know all is calm I still need to feel the smooth back of the iPhone in my hand.
It’s funny how easy it is to communicate, to call, text, message, poke, whatever. But in a world where communication is so easy why are finding it harder to communicate?
I have to speak with dozens of people a week for my job as a journalist. Ideally I like to do interviews in person, it’s the best way to converse without distraction, to establish trust, to exchange ideas. It’s strange to me to see how many people cannot think in a one-on-one situation in person. People would generally prefer distance, through the phone or through the computer. It’s like technology has become some kind of buffer so we don’t have to share the same space.
I think people generally feel more comfortable about opening up when there isn’t a physical audience. That’s why so many blogs exist where people can express the pain in their lives or their feelings that they would never tell to a parent or friend. In that sense the virtual world is a good thing, it can foster nurturing between people with similar lives and situations. It can bring people together.
But it can also bring people together in a negative way. I am talking about adults bullying each other through the internet. Adults, grown men and women harassing, teasing, and spreading lies about each other through the internet. Seems a bit juvenile, right?
I see it everyday on the websites at work. People hiding behind aliases saying hateful and vicious things about real people, using real names. Most of these people I know in real life and I have never seen them behave the way they do online, even when in the presence of those who they hate online. That virtual buffer in this case makes people feel say things they would never say to another person, it takes away the human element. That is dangerous.
But what does this connection do? It drives people further apart. I don’t think anything has been solved through an argument in the comment section of a news article or on the comment section of a youtube video. This only fosters hate through boredom.
As a society we need to come together to figure out how to use the internet in a better way. We need to look at the screen as we type and see a human face staring back at us. You should have no problem using your real name instead of an alias. We need to own up to our words. If you tweet it, blog it, or Facebook it you should be able to say it.