Has technology made people unsocial?

It is no myth that we have become slaves to our mobile phones and our smart devices. In fact, they've done more than this — they have made us obedient on text on a screen.

Gone are the days where we are accustomed to bumping into an old friend on the street and expressing delight (or horror, for those kind of people) — instead, we keep up with just about everyone online.

But it goes further than that — these people who you aren't particular acquainted with are able to keep up with every detail about your life. All it takes is to know your name, and these people can peek in to everything about you — your relationship interests, what you've been up to; just about anything you deem acceptable to put online becomes completely exposed to the people who you may not actually be aware are reading your posts.

However, I disagree that they have made (all) people unsocial. Before I got my smartphone, I wasn't much of a social person. Now, I am. I have went from being an introvert into being a very social character. And, best of all, my smartphone gives me the freedom of choosing who I speak to — so, if I feel down, I can arrange to meet a friend over text; ten minutes later, I'm physically stood in front of them. If I don’t feel like speaking to someone, I just don’t pick up my smartphone — it’s as simple as that. It lets me keep control of my social life — if I want to focus on something for a few hours, it’s a matter of me turning off my phone.

But technology does need to be used in limits, not in excess. When we spoil ourselves with the ability to message people, when we get too deep into social media sites, we begin to lose track of the people in front of us. There needs to be more safeguards in place to;

1.) Stop people from over consuming social media. Netflix, for example, started doing small adverts a while back which are aimed to discourage users from binge-watching episodes. I think this is a great step towards stopping people from getting too invested into technology; social media sites need to start doing the same.
2.) Create more opportunities for young people to network with others locally, rather than encouraging online communication. Teenagers are the most influenced by social media and it will continue to happen as we develop — unless we start encouraging more communication and networking, away from our devices.
3.) Implement daily life and technology more, so that it helps us rather than distracts us with what’s in front of us. I recently downloaded an app called SelfControl which lets me block sites for specific periods of time, so that I can get more done without the ability of distracting myself. It’s worked wonders for me; I’ve actually been able to do my coursework for once before answering countless questions on Quora as a result — more apps like this, less apps that consume our time.

However, another key way to tackle the issues of overconsumption with social media is to look further into the problem; to look at the social divide created as a result of a connected community — especially amongst Generation X, the adults of the future. People are increasingly chasing popularity through sites like Facebook, with attempts to accumulate Likes (sorry, Reactions) through many different means; taking advantage of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm through tagging a list of friends in a profile picture, so that it gains more coverage (and thus, more ‘Likes’).

Despite what you may think, this is an unhealthy obsession. Sites like Facebook, when used improperly, pose the risk of breeding a generation of narcissists who have over-inflated egos because they finally managed to reach X number of likes on their latest profile picture. It’s an endless cycle of pursuing acceptance, which opens a different aspect of humans which has no positives other than self-satisfaction.

This is what our online lives have become — we are willingly playing into the hands of the tech giants, handing over our personal information in exchange for ways to spend our time doing something we deem productive, but holds no genuine value in the real world.

Your virtual likes will do you no good in the real world. They will not help you overcome the challenges which will face you in the years to come; nor will they play any difference on the day of your eventual death. They mean nothing — so why the fixation on pursuing virtual popularity?

We’ve only had 10 years of implementing social media into the lives of humans; there still holds a lot of potential for us all. We haven’t worked out the ups and downs of networking properly yet; we still have a lot to learn.

However, it is very important that we consider exactly what we do when we’re using sites like Facebook. As long as we use these sites with care, they can do us a world of good — but if we overstep our mark, if we continue to over-consume in the way that we do, we may eventually end up in a world full of digital zombies — people who only look away from their screen when they finally pass away, having spent all of their time looking at what’s on their digital screen, not what’s right in front of them.

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