Monday, 25 May 2015

Should you Delete Your WhatsApp or Facebook Account?

In the last few weeks, a number of events have taken place that have brought to question the effect of social media in our lives. There is no doubt that more than any other time, we are more connected than ever.  However, what is its real impact on our relationships? Has it helped to enhance the quality of our lives or has it taken away from them, altogether?

If you get the sense that a while a while ago, whenever you were confronted by a situation where you were required to help, you were more compelled to do so than you are now - you are probably right. I hate to admit it but the truth is, whereas I still relate deeply to events in the lives of other people, and while I am sympathetic to their causes,  the same things that would ordinarily be a call to action do not elicit the same effect that they did a few years ago.

Lost capacity to empathize
At face value, one might argue that our capacity to empathize with other people and their situation has diminished over time. However, could it be argued that we (yes, I believe that I speak for other people as well)  haven’t changed at all. Rather,  what has actually changed is how we relate to the sheer volume of information that we receive, and by extension, how it is presented to us. 

On any given day, if you are connected to a smartphone, as most of us are, you are inundated with a lot of messages. Unlike a few years ago when this was limited to selected medium, when you have not been inboxed, tagged or copied, someone has probably shared something with you.

At the end of the day, when you have been continuously swarmed with a barrage of mostly impersonal messages - where a like, share, retweet or LOL would suffice - it is understandable that whenever a serious personal message comes through, it tends to slide through the cracks and doesn't portend a sense of urgency or carry as much weight as it otherwise would. 

The more we touch, the less we are touched
There are lot of ways of explaining this. However, the best way to do so is to compare  communication with art - the more copies of a piece become available, the lower its value. Therefore,  producing large quantities of information, even on personal media, takes away that 'personal touch.' In a sense, the more people we touch, the less they are touched." Based on my own experience, I couldn't agree more. It is a  fact that with advancement in technology, there are fundamental changes expected in how we relate to each other. This can not be put more clearly in perspective than in Sherry Turkle’s book aptly titled, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other.

I doubt that the one-to-one interactions that worked so well before, will ever be completely eliminated. On the other hand, anyone that ignores the ease of communication that new media presents is completely out of touch with reality. It has been argued that ‘perhaps one of the greatest challenges of our time is to embrace the advances in communication while maintaining our humanity.'

So maybe I am going out on a limb here, but next time you want to really reach out to someone, give them a quick call, sit down with them for a candid chat, put your phone away and have a conversation with them the old-fashioned way. If you live far away from the, send them a letter (maybe that’s too much but hey, how else can you be heard and be felt from all the noise).

Do you get the sense that people are a lot more easier to reach out to yet a lot less accessible and harder to connect with? It would be nice to hear from you.

Post a Comment