We may prefer e-mails to phone calls and online articles to paper books in libraries, but nothing can replace a face-to-face conversation.
Technology has done its job and connected us to each other worldwide, for better or for worse. People are able to keep in touch with friends through social networking sites. It may be a shallow friendship, but who doesn’t smile a little when someone posts on your Facebook wall by simply saying, “Hey, how’s your summer going?”
Sometimes, it takes that one person who’s known you since elementary school to keep you sane through the failed classes, lack of job offers and break-ups.
It certainly helps to know they’re just a “send” button away. Sometimes it helps to vent on your blog or Tumblr, not because you seek attention, but because it’s comforting to know that maybe someone out there reading it has felt the same way you do.
Sometimes when you’re lonely, it’s nice to look at your AIM buddy list and know you’re not alone.
Last Saturday night I checked my phone and found that my roommate sent me a text: “OMG my roommate was being so loud tonight and I couldn’t sleep!”
I paused as I got into bed and my stomach squirmed a little bit. Even though we were in rooms next door to each other, and technically are just “apartment mates,” I knew that the roommate being referred to in the text message was me.
It was just the two of us in our apartment that night. Earlier before, I was a little louder than usual when a couple of my friends came over to visit, but I had never before been called out for being a “bad roommate” and it hurt a little.
I assumed it was a text meant to be sent to someone else, unless it was some kind of passive-aggressive way to ask me to shut up, and now I had the awkward choice of whether or not to respond.
I flipped out the keyboard of my cell and typed, “OMG I think my roommate accidentally texted me, complaining about how we were too loud tonight!” I double-checked my outbox to make sure I sent it to the right person.
As much as technology feeds into our need for contact, it can also increase our anti-social tendencies as well.
I probably should have apologized face-to-face to my roommate the next day but instead neither of us ever acknowledged the incident. It seems people use electronic communication as a way to avoid confrontation or uncomfortable conversations.
A friend’s roommate recently told her through e-mail she was moving out in a week because she was tired of living in their apartment. Another friend of mine was once asked out through Twitter.
Avoiding potential unpleasantness, however, is something we do as people – not as people addicted to technology. Technology only makes it possible.
It is a bit disconcerting to see that Facebook has more than 400 million active users and 50 percent of those people log onto Facebook each day (and yes, I found that information by a quick Google search).
But remember that we survived every pop culture phenomenon to grip our minds and souls so far. We’ll survive this one too. Once I see birth rates dropping because people refuse to leave their house, I’ll start to worry.
Technology changes the way we interact with others. It also causes people to become lonely and anti-social. E-mail substitutes for letters while instant messaging supplements phone calls. Just because communication has become faster and more convenient doesn’t make it worse.
While on the surface it may seem cold and impersonal, typed text doesn’t actually make the sentiment behind a note any less sincere than something handwritten. Though we may hide behind text messaging every now and then, people know that if you don’t get out there in the physical world enough, it’ll keep going on without you.