We all want to feel connected. To something. To someone. More broadly, we want to feel like we are a part of something bigger than us that connects us with the humanity. It’s the search of a lifetime because somehow we all know that those connections are the only way to find satisfaction and fulfillment in life. Since the beginning of mankind those connections were made person-to-person, through face-to-face interactions, culture, religion, and more. In today’s world, increased transportation and the world wide web have created new opportunities to connect. But what actually brings that satisfaction and fulfillment we want so dearly? The answer is simple, because it is the one that had to start the whole process. The connections and relationships that grow from face-to-face, personal interactions gives us more satisfaction and brings more fulfillment than any other kind. Unfortunately, due to technological advancements and the easiness of virtual connections through social media and culture through digital entertainment our society has become far to dependent on these superficial means to feel connected and lost sight of the value of personal interactions.
To best display this shift and the difference between these two ways to connect with humanity, I photographed peers in the act of either form of interaction and the pictures speak for themselves. Photos capture reality, and I took candid pictures because they reveal the responses and emotions in their purest forms. Young adults and those with social media are the ones who are most prone to rely too much on virtual connections, and pictures are especially persuasive with this audience. With their frequent use of technology, these people are accustomed to gathering information quickly without much effort, and pictures allow anyone to absorb their message in a matter of seconds. There is a reason that Facebook and Instagram are such popular social networking platforms because of the easiness of soaking in information quickly. For this same reason, I chose to create a Instagram account with all 32 of my pictures, and I shared the account on my Facebook profile as well. Not only does this appeal to our desire to gather information quickly, but it attracts my desired audience of people on social media who are most likely to focus too much of their time and efforts seeking fulfillment from virtual connections.
The photos themselves are very revealing and much can be learned from them. Not a single person on their phone had a smile on their face. This doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t happy, but there is certainly a difference between a stone face locked on a phone screen and the full, unabashed smile as two friends connect and grow closer. You can sense not just the overall emotions of those pictured, but you can get a sense of what the experience was like for them and something inside you is warmed by witnessing the gratification that comes from personal interactions. The pictures also clearly show how those who are on their phones isolate themselves from immediate surroundings. It is quite ironic that by acting on their innate desire to feel connected with others through social media they disconnect themselves from those nearby. They might be able to connect with more people regardless of their distance from them, but it is not at the depth that is possible in personal interactions. Clearly, we have become too focused on social media and digital entertainment in our search for a sense of belonging and connection and we must get back to natural, face-to-face interactions to find the fulfillment we seek through our connection to the world.
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