The world we live in today is definitely not the same world as it was 50 years ago. Everything is based on technology and it seems that the art of human interaction and conversation is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Have we reached a point of no return? What else is there to be invented and discovered that will further pull us away from one another?
In our generation, Gen Y, technology really took off and started its journey to become what it is today. Depending on what year you were born in the Gen Y, you may remember a slightly simpler time. I remember the first computer we ever got, and it was such a big deal. It took 20 minutes for the thing to start up and we had one computer game that was a learning game made for 6 year olds but I played it until I was 10. That’s all that was available, and it was awesome. There was a time where you could safely prank call people because all you had to do was hit *67 and no one could trace your call. It is now impossible to find a phone that doesn’t have caller ID built in.
There was a time where no one had cell phones. You went out to play and came home when it got dark. Your parents pretty much always knew where you were. You walked everywhere, and called your parents either on your friend’s home phone, or called collect on the pay phone so they knew you were safe. “Texting” wasn’t a thing, “tweeting” was for birds, “liking” was giving someone a high five.
We lived in the time where we got to see these things happen, we were able to witness the changing world. It seems that it only took 10 years to get from there to here. Myspace, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. No one talks to each other anymore. People are actually getting “injured” from staring down at their phones for too long and straining their necks. It even has a name, “Text neck”.
So what does this mean for our future? There are a lot of problems with the new generation, of kids today, because no one is teaching them how to have a conversation. So how will this affect things when they go out into the work force as adults? Eventually, the Gen Y’s will be old and retired, and maybe the art of a nice conversation with eye contact will be irrelevant. But until that happens, will the younger generation be able to succeed? Everyone now is so impatient; everyone wants instant gratification. You can achieve ANYTHING within seconds with the tap of one finger. Years ago you had to wait almost a year for a movie to come out into stores on VHS tape. Now you can download it illegally within hours of its release. It’s incredible really, how fast these things happened. But it’s frightening as well. What will they come up with next, and how is it going to affect our future? More people today seem angry and frustrated and it’s most likely due to these changes, these new values and morals that have been set in place since the internet took off. Cyber bullying was never a thing when I was young, there was REAL bullying with people in your face. Now, with the cover of anonymity, more people are quick to judge and be mean because no one will know. You can be as mean as you want and still kiss grandma on the cheek and not feel guilty about it.
Studies have shown that social media outlets are addictive. When you reveal personal information about yourself to others, it triggers the pleasure centers of your brain and makes you crave more. In addition to being addicting, the study showed that people were more excited about talking about themselves than talking of other people. Social media, Facebook in particular, is making us more and more self absorbed, selfish, and unhappy. There are even people who have serious internet addictions, where the urge to be online interferes with daily life.
With the prevalence of the World Wide Web as strong as it is today, how are we to have hope that things will ever improve? Recently there was a $300 million transatlantic cable laid in the ocean just for the purpose of shaving 5 milliseconds off of stock trading between the US and Europe. The things that we are achieving are so extraordinary, but the effects seem to be becoming detrimental to society. Everyone always seems to be half listening. Multitasking is something that needs to be perfected if you want to make it in the world. And with this huge technological boom that we’ve created, machines and computers have taken over valuable jobs, and more people are sitting behind a desk staring at a computer screen than ever before. There are days where people spend hours and hours writing emails and texting, and probably never even use their voice to speak to anyone. Gone are the days where everyone knows their neighbors, where people walk slowly, laugh loudly, and live happily. We always want more, we want it now, and we want it faster than before. We are all so on-the-go that it feels like we are only half living, essentially becoming half-minded robots who have been numbed by the blinding lights of our cell phones and the tapping of our fingers.
Although things are always changing, and it needs to be accepted that these are the times we live in, hopefully there will be some kind of saving grace in all of this. There are obviously incredible advantages to all of this technology, helping us in ways that were unimaginable when our grandparents were born. But something has got to give if we don’t want to lose the art of human interaction all together.