Technology is Affecting the Quality of Human Face-to-Face Interaction
We live in a digital world; just short of being pixelated or virtual ourselves, the things around us continue to get smarter, faster, more connected becoming increasingly more digital. Customer relationships are digital; Business channels are digital; Our conversations are digital, and our social interactions are slowly being affected by this digital world.
With the existing of new and emerging technologies through the past decade, it is an undeniable fact that digital technologies have made a high contribution to improvements in our lives. It has made our lives easier, placing more of our daily activities to the online web and being able to communicate across long distances. For example, currently being on exchange has allowed me to connect with my family back home via FaceTime an online video application. Nevertheless, the downsides of technologies cannot be ignored; which is why I will be discussing the negative implications that the digital technology can bring into the social face-to-face interactions of our relationships today.
Last week, upon reflecting about the assignment I realized how digital technology was affecting MY personal social face-to-face interaction as instead of swinging by my friend’s place 3 blocks away I just snapchated her to ‘catch up’ on our lives. Then, I was supposed to go to my professor’s office hours, but instead I emailed him my question I had about the assignment. Later that evening, as I was walking off the bus, I saw a boy asking a girl for the time, however she was too busy scrolling through her phone to even notice he was there. All of these missed interactions in which memories could have been made if being physically together, professional connections for a potential letter of recommendation could have been possible or even just a welcoming smile to the boy that was carrying a suitcase were missed opportunities. All because of one thing: technology. Instead of engaging with one another analogously it is slowly shifting and becoming digital. With the average adult being awake for 15 hours and 45 minutes every day it is said that we spend about 45 percent of that time using a proliferation of technology.
Humans are made to form relationships since we have an innate longing to share our lives with family, friends and partners. This social interaction is important but often complex as people take in face to face communication in different ways (through tone, facial expression, words etc.). However today, instead of spending time in person with friends, we are consistently choosing to communicate via online mechanisms such as applications like Facebook, IMessage, Snapchat and Instagram. These four are only some of the new ways that offer ways of interaction and engagement allowing us to be as physically close to one another as possible in a virtual world. They do this by allowing us to send voice message, photos, videos and video call online as well as send text messages. However, the biggest difference: conversations that happen over technology lack content. You never really know when someone is being sarcastic, funny, or serious. Misunderstandings, miscommunication and assumptions impact how we view others, and happen very often when there is no face-to-face communication. While technology tries to account for this, for instance, with the emoji’s, bitmoji’s and giff’s used in texting apps, they give the sender the ability to communicate a facial expression virtually. Additionally, in 2012, Snapchat came out allowing us to take pictures of ourselves, videos and type messages which allows the use of our own tone of voice and facial expressions; making it the closest digital invention to human interactions that entertains one another without physically being side by side. While this is great because technology allows people to connect across the globe instantly, there is also a sense of disconnection that comes with this. Online contact still falls short and fails to deliver personal touch despite all these advances. For example, once in a while I get “stickers” and “emojis” on social media but it doesn’t make me feel a personal connection with that person. It is not the same as getting a hug.
Conversations that now happen through social media and have taken the place of traditional interactions is causing people to leave their houses less and less since they do not need to leave to communicate with others. This can lead to social isolation. Essentially, instead of spending time in person with friends, we just call, text, instant message them or send a 10 second snapchat. In some extreme cases, some people only lead lives in the virtual world in which they have even gotten married in online video games such as Second Life. Second life is a virtual world where avatars do the kind of stuff that real people do in life, however some players even choose to get married online via this game.
Moreover, using apps and social media allows one to portray an image that they want the world to see, not being true to who they really are. Not many people will post about their bad days, however there will be lots of posts online about travelling and how thankful they are and how great their life is. Technology in this way can cause relationships not only to be strained with others, but can also cause your relationship with your self to spiral downwards. Seeing what others are constantly achieving causes you to examine your life and often leaves you feeling as if you are not good enough when you are not posting on social media, or that other’s lives are better than your own. In this way technology affects your relationship with yourself.
These methods of connecting, although entertaining and the new way of adaption, still do not and will not incorporate all aspects of face-to-face interaction; because as most of us forget, physical face-to-face interactions is one of the most important determinants for our bodies to keeping us happy as well as for our mental health. It’s something essential and irreplaceable, creating the bond between relationships that one can trust and hold on to which you cannot get by simply conversing overs social media. Continuing to interact in person allows us to focus on the other person and truly learn about whom they are. Furthermore, one should not be surprised that a human contact is proven to bring us a sense of relaxation and well being to our bodies. Not only that but face-to-face interactions build trust, find out hidden gems that one would not want to talk over social media about as well as are able to enjoy and make memories with that you can look back on.
So, next time you text a friend, why not ask them to hang out and grab a coffee instead of communicating to them through our online devices.
I started the Digital Society course not having put much thought into the implications of technology. Thinking I had a fairly general idea of what it consisted of with social media playing a role in our every day lives and cities becoming more sustainable through technology; I feel like this course introduced me to the” behind the scenes” of technology we as students don’t often think of every day.
Being an exchange student from Canada, I had the opportunity to engage in courses that are not usually offered back home. Therefore, as a marketing student, seeing the course “the Digital Society” immediately appealed to me. I was drawn to the course knowing that today, the business world, yet alone marketing departments are quickly headed towards the direction of the digital world and peaked an interest on a personal level in which I hoped I could grasp a deeper understanding on what is out there. And exactly that I did.
I found myself to be continually amazed yet sometimes scared when discussing in class on topics such as the Internet, net neutrality, the Strava data incident or even at the DigiLabs when I tried out the Virtual Reality for the first time. This class has made me take a step back and look at the technology of today, how rapidly things have changed and how it has truly made such vast differences in all our lives today; good and bad. This course has helped me gain insight into the advantages and implications that come with this new era of technology. It challenged me to think critically, learn a new writing style and present a powerful idea in a limited time.
Perhaps one of the most important things the course has taught me is the understanding of all the ethical implications technology actually comes with. My thought process continued to shape my view in technology in a different way than how naïve it was before, which for that I am grateful as I gained important knowledge such as keeping my own data protected for in the future. Furthermore, a useful yet very overlooked tip I gained as well was the understanding of copyright — something Id never thought I would ever need. Since we normally get asked to write essays for our courses it was a different and more enjoyable experience to write blogs as we learn a more realistic form of writing that is becoming widely used today.
During my reflection, I realized that this course is not only served to inform us, however to make us aware of what we are surrounded by. I most enjoyed this course as it was unlike any other course I have taken in my University experience. The guest speakers coming in every week gave it a refreshing and unique outlook, gaining insights form multiple people as well as the pecha kucha’s performed challenged me, knowing that one day, in the business world I will be asked to use it again.