“Communication is at the very core of our society. That’s what makes us human.” – Jan Koum, Snapchat founder.
Social interaction has undoubtedly come a long way. In recent decades, notable advancements in technology have enabled us to communicate with each other in real-time, regardless of distance and time zone. All we need is a stable Internet connection and a capable device, and make sure the receiving end is ready on the other side of the world, and we are good to go.
Snail mails, which usually take weeks or months to reach its destination, are slowly becoming a thing of the past. These traditional modes of communication are being replaced not only by electronic mail (email) but by text and instant messaging, as well.
It is tempting to think that these innovations in communication offer nothing but convenience and benefits, and some people may agree with this. But unfortunately, that is not the case. For every benefit we get to enjoy from technology is a setback we need to get over.
Technology is Changing Social Interaction
The same modern methods of communication that are connecting peoples from different nations and cultures across the world are also building walls that are dangerously affecting the very thread of society.
The advent of social networking sites such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter may have helped people connect with distant relatives and childhood friends, but these websites and apps are also affecting how people are interacting with the people around them, especially within the family.
Today’s digital age has certainly changed how we interact with people, how we perceive ourselves in society, and how we stay updated. Here are some of the instances where technology is changing social interactions:
- “Plugged In” Society – Nowadays, it is a common scenario in a commuter bus, train, or any public transportation to see passengers staring at their mobile phones or tablets, minding their own business and not anyone around. Some of them even have their earphones on, unwilling to be disturbed or lured into a conversation.
That isn’t surprising, considering that recent studies state that the average person spends 3 hours and 15 minutes on his mobile device every day. Smartphones and wearable devices are continuously being developed and upgraded so people can bring them wherever they are, and that is precisely what we’re doing today.
Instead of enjoying the mundane aspects of everyday life, we try to stay online as much as possible.
- Online Instead of Offline – Concerning the previous point, even when present with a group, some people just cannot resist using their smartphones. They prefer to connect with other people online rather than offline. As a result, these people can say they have a lot of online connections, but very few real friends whom they can trust and depend on.
This particular change in social interaction affects the family system, as well. Gone are the days when families sit together in front of the dinner table to talk about their day and relate with one another. Children and sometimes, even parents, are glued to their mobile phones when they get home. This results in reduced intimacy among family members.
- The Urge to Share – As social networking apps are becoming easier to use and navigate through, more people are also getting the itch to share everything online. Relationships, heartaches, parenting, travels, daily chores, and food—you name it. Today’s modern technology is giving people the need to post and share, mainly to get the attention of their social circles online.
Selfie Generation – Social interaction today has moved beyond words. Selfies flood the Internet, most of which require attention, likes, reacts, and shares. In sharing selfies, it does not matter if you just woke up. With a little tinkering of your smartphone’s camera or photo app, you’ll be able to snap the freshest “woke up like this” picture that your friends will surely love.
Unfortunately, this also promotes an online culture that only accepts beauty and perfection.
- Digital News – A study conducted by Wibbitz found that millennials are mostly relying on online media for the latest news. That means this age group (24–39) do not get their news from the TV anymore. Reading the latest news online not only keeps them updated in real-time, but it also allows them to voice their opinions on said news through likes, reacts, shares, or comments.
- Business Moves Online – Even business marketing campaigns and strategies are slowly moving online. Traditional advertising may still be present, but most of the consumers see placed ads online, either on social media, digital news publications, or search engines.
Given that a large chunk of the market pie is composed of millennials as digital natives, businesses should adapt and tailor their strategies to entice them through modern forms of advertising.
Digital marketing has also replaced traditional marketing, allowing industry newcomers to make an impact early on, as well. Even security has now taken in a more digital approach. In order to reduce risks of digital security breaches, a business should employ an advanced security system.
Finding the Right Balance
Indeed, with all the modern forms of technology being developed today, it is difficult to picture how life used to be like before smartphones and apps came into the picture. But all those glorious childhood days are over, and we must face the fact that modern technology is not only here to stay but will also continue to evolve to improve lives and make things possible.
However, as humans, we should always find the right balance—using technology and modern communication methods but staying faithful to the most basic type of communication—social interactions and conversations.
We should not let technology dictate how we grow, think, and interact as humans. We have survived for so long without Facebook or Google, which means it is not the end if you settle for old-fashioned conversations every now and then.
It’s just a matter of staying true to ourselves as social creatures because, as stated earlier, it’s what makes us human.
Valerie Chua is a seasoned writer living in the Philippines. She is an expert in everything about gadgets and technology, lifestyle and travelling.