To the friends I don’t call anymore
Here’s to the friends I don’t call anymore. I don’t call you anymore because I always know what you’ve been up to over the weekend. I even know that you have just headed into a bar without inviting me. I know that you and Debbie have gotten engaged even though you never told me this in person. Did you forget I introduced you to her? I know that you went to the Formula 1 in Singapore — the pictures were great by the way; what’s Montoya like in real life? I know that you got a new job and also have a baby on the way — congratulations! I love knowing what’s going on in your life. It makes me feel like I’m still a small part of it and you’re still a part of mine. Even though really… we aren’t.
You know, I actually miss the old times we’d catch up in the pub and have long discussions about girls, work, movies — and girls again. But those days appear to be over. We now both have our own lives and technology has taken over the task of keeping each other up to date on each others lives. We are always informed. We never miss out. And even if it is simply a small button to the right which we could press to chat on the phone, why should we? There’s not much we need to tell each other. Did we move on? Are we no longer relevant to each other?
Nowadays, we know what everyone’s up to. We know who’s got married, and who’s had kids and who hasn’t. We feel close, yet, we feel so far. We feel as if we have so many friends, yet, we don’t dare to call someone up as they might think something is wrong, or perhaps you are not doing as well as your Facebook profile suggests. We feel as though we know what’s going on, yet, we feel like everything we know is only what’s trending, what everyone’s posting, and what’s being shared or “liked”.
There can be no doubt that there’s beauty in technology — it keeps us connected; it keeps us well informed; it keeps us safe. But at the same time, there’s an ugly side to it. I am not talking about the constantly drained battery, rather that technology has fundamentally and deeply changed us. We have become different people. Different in the way we live and different in the way we interact.
Let’s face it. We used to read books. We used to read long and deep articles. We used to love long chats over the phone and catching up with friends in person because we didn’t get to update them everyday, and we were curious to hear what they had been up to. WE USED TO MAKE A REAL EFFORT with keeping in touch with friends — with truly connecting. Yes, that’s right — we used to…be real-er.
Well luckily we don’t need to make much of an effort anymore. With just a few quick clicks, everything we want or need to know is right there — what our friends have been up to, who they are dating, where they’ve been traveling, the last fine dining restaurant they ate at, what they received on Valentine’s Day, and whether or not they were out on the weekend with your ex.
Technology has facilitated our slippery slide into communicational laziness. We are addicted to instant information; we’ve become more impatient than ever, and more self-centered. We’ve even become too lazy to debate what the Capital of Iceland is with a mate — we’d rather just google it.
In fact, we have become so impatient that oftentimes instead of trying to compromise and make the time to meet with or phone up our friends, we don’t. We just text or WhatsApp or Viber each other while doing something else, and sometimes we don’t bother at all.
This impatience is born of being able to find anything online and order it with literally our fingertips (thanks Apple, hopefully you won’t share the data with others though). We become photo manipulation artists to make ourselves look better because… who would want to post something on Facebook that doesn’t get any likes? Who would say something on their status that makes them look stupid even though that’s what they really want to say? Who would put up an ugly photo of herself with no makeup or, heaven forbid, unintentionally messy hair? At the same time, who wouldn’t click “like” on a nice or moving photo of a friend?
Technology has somehow generated a self-fulfilling prophecy, particularly among the generation who grew up with the need to get instant approval above anything else. Snapchat, Vine, Instagram have become something far more insidious and sinister than just a creative communication outlet. They have become a place to seek the attention we crave, as compensation for the human intimacy we have given up.
People start to measure their pride and self-worth based on the number of ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ they have. Social media has brought us marketing bots that go around generating fake comments and extra likes so that your account gets noticed. What is our society becoming? What do we now value most? Is being admired and ‘liked’ more important than having meaningful, flesh-and-blood relationships that last? Maybe; maybe not. I wonder…and if you wonder too: it’s Reykjavik.
Dutchman Marco van Aggele is founder and owner of a healthy mix of Companies. Creativity (and being different for that matter) is the reason behind everything Marco does and what drives him to be build new concepts and practice living an unconventional life.
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