The rapid rise of digital technology has brought many naysayers and doomsday preachers who say it is killing meaningful communication. On one level, they have a point. Even at dinner these days everyone’s guaranteed to have their phones out.
When we look closer, however, it becomes evident that digital technology and social media have made our communication and socialisation richer. Family and friends in far-flung corners of the world are now more accessible. We can simply send a text or voice note to our friend in Australia via Whatsapp or iMessage. Video-calling in apps like Facetime, Skype, Messenger and WhatsApp puts us in touch with our personal network immediately.
The truth is, even when we are on our phone at dinner, we are communicating, with someone. If we’re popular our “hotline blings”, according to Drake. When we’re on the phone, 90% of the time we are communicating with someone or searching for something to show our friends. It shouldn’t bother anyone that we have lots of friends to talk to, and, worse, to blame it on new and efficient technology.
Socialising through the internet has helped many of us to decide who to associate with, even if most of them are mere acquaintances. And there is always the option to unfollow or block those friends who post stuff we disagree with or respond in bad taste. That is a great tool in our social arsenal because it is much more stressful to perform the same act in person. On the flipside, we can easily find people who share our interests instead of cajoling friends to enjoy all the things we like.
The internet is a tool that has helped to enrich the human experience. We should be grateful that we live in an era more networked and interconnected than ever. Messages that would have taken weeks to send, 50 years ago, now take seconds. Complain if you must, but know that it is futile. We’re not going back to old technology.