How technology is changing our relationships
Technology has become a significant influence on our everyday life. Former creator of networks, now, we are a part of them, and they define our daily structure. Equipped with devices designed to connect us and to have our friends always with us, still, we feel utterly alone. This hybridism offers us comfort and not only allows us to break out of the limitations of the past and to enhance our possibilities but also brings great changes to our society. A rapidly and fast transform towards eliminating communities, unlearning face to face human interaction and unknown states of relationships which will drive us into greater anxiety. Blurred by the illusion of finding greater freedom, we forget about ourselves and our life in reality.
Only two decades ago, our society was build up different in many ways. These days, we start seeing online networks as communities and forget what them defined. Community means to help, to care for and to know each other. To give among each other. Those communities were in the past typical for villages or even blocks in cities between families. Through human contact. It was common to share ideas and to support them politically or in other forms. Network through our electronic devices are also build up because of common ideas or interests, but we lost our bound to support those in reality. A gap is existing between our identity in the real world and our online “second-self”. We are unsure which parts of our identities we should connect and implement. As a result, we often find ourselves in a field of moral disorientation and spiritual emptiness. Not sure who we are. We feel helpless and without impact in our connected world we life in. More comfortable in our controllable network.
Second-life is a vast form of connection. A new sense of place. Where people can be together. With its magic and attraction, this second-life offers us an area to experiment with identity. The great benefit for second-life, is at the same time problematic for our life in reality. The existence of consequences is, what Freud called out, to be essential for growing adult. We as people use the internet mostly to explore identity. Online we are most often the truest self. While being in second life, we spend our day by scrolling through messages and even meet with virtual lovers sometimes and ignore what is going on around us. Living several lines simultaneously. Dangerous here is, that sometimes this online life becomes more important than everything else because you created “a better me”. You are a better person, richer, thinner and younger and feel more satisfaction. We spend more time in our perfect world and lose track of our real life. Equally influential to ourselves, but far less noticed are profiles we create to explore our identity even further. Through platforms like Facebook, mySpace we learn early in our life how to make a profile. It’s a representation not only of ourselves but of how we want to be. We spend a lot of time thinking about our profile and what it contains. People and friends are defining us through the information they can find there. As the conclusion of this fact, we try to be the norm and to present ourselves in the most accepted way but hesitate to show people other parts. We are refusing us to fit a stereotype. We are in constant fear to reveal too much to a network we don’t even know how far it goes.
Beginning in childhood, most children get cellphones between the age of nine and thirteen. To answer parents calls, to protect themselves and for overall safety. Already tethered and under their parent’s control. They don’t have to develop responsibilities on their self to count on. Kids often feel trapped and independent. From the beginning, we get imprinted that the cellphone is for emergencies. With this in our mind and the fact that anything could happen, we are condemned to respond to any signal from the phone. By trying to ignore it, we develop the feeling that we might miss something. We feel we have to respond instantly and we also know the person on the other end of the connection can see when we where online and saw the message. This state of being also tethered makes it easy to express emotions while the are being formed through instant messaging. Adolescent conversations are by nature exploratory, and this is in healthy ways helpful to have a sense of who you are. As this cellphone is our connection to a network of friends. We experience it as a safe place. When we feel uncomfortable, our hands move unconsciously to it. It is a part of ourselves and not having it nearby results in a high-stress level. Sometimes technology and networks have an effect on us leading to anxiety. But often we won’t realise it as the source of the problem. We have all these friends right in our pocket. With us every time. We can always go on our constructed profiles and avatars. Versions of ourselves. Chat with friends anywhere we want. But at the end we have to ask ourselves: Do I know my online friends really? Who are they to me?
We are always on, always connected with other persons. Living several lives on screen and one offline. We may not question the way our relationships work in our new world. In our believing that successful people are always connected, we often don’t see the negative site. We invented all this technology to get more time and insist that our world is increasingly complex: A paradox in itself. But instead of standing still and think for a moment we develop new technologies to make us even more efficient. We are exactly what Richard Tarnas (2001) calls the modern human: Bold, restless, brilliantly innovative and continuously pressing forward. Our reality gets overwhelming stressful and lets us, even more, enjoy our avatar life unable to confront these problems in reality. We explore identity freely, but we fail to explore ourselves. We would need time to think. But this would also mean to turn off our phones, and this is no a simple proposition since our devices are even more closely coupled to our sense of ourselves in the modern world. We might need rest like daydreaming to maintain our ability to focus. We might need downtime. But when? We underestimate how important it is to get our mind free. To be on our own and in silent. The state of reverie is important to get new ideas and to rethink. A moment we often disturb through messaging and cultivating our second life.
Time with ourselves leads to understanding ourselves better. To know us better and to define us. We have to get away from our network sometimes to maintain knowledge of who we are and we also should learn to enjoy our real life again. Because if we don’t, we get more and more confused about who we are. Sometimes technologies and networks are our hope for being a better person. We love the feeling, that we can do more and reach our limits. But it also limits us in the way we experience not only ourselves but human relationships as well. It isolates us between many. We should overcome ourselves and instead of texting we should have a try again to discuss our problems with a friend in a face to face conversation. We have to face problems and real consequences which are essential for growing adult. I also believe we have to be careful in our trying to surpass the human community. We already began to outperform the real life. Technology brings us great advantages, but we have to be aware of the distinction blur between ourselves and the virtual world.