Is technology ruining our social life? – Opinion Piece

I read an article the other day in The Sunday Mirror’s magazine, Notebook, where Will.i.am was discussing his views on how we are so caught up with technology and find it an achievement to receive ‘likes’ on Facebook and Instagram, and in all honesty I agree with him.

We live in a time where we tend to have short attention spans and need to check our phones every 5 minutes to see if someone replied to us, or liked a photo, and it’s seen as a negative when our photos on instagram received less than 10 likes, even though we added 50 hashtags to the image (and then deleted most of them after receiving substantial likes).

You could say we’d have less problems in our relationships when we stop nagging each other when we don’t reply within a certain time frame, ‘even though they just sent the text and I replied within 30 seconds’.

Image from: http://blog.bookrenter.com/
Image from: http://blog.bookrenter.com/

According to an ICMPA study, ‘most college students are not just unwilling, but functionally unable to be without their media links to the world.’

The study by the International Center for Media & the Public Agenda (ICMPA) asked 200 students at the University of Maryland, College Park to refrain from using all media for 24 hours. After this time frame, the students were asked to blog on private class websites to reveal their results, and they were very interesting.

One student felt that in the morning they felt fine, but by the afternoon they began to fidget and started feeling isolated and lonely, especially when receiving phone calls which they were unable to answer. Many other students claimed to feel the same isolation, especially without being able to interact with friends or family via technology. Even though they still went to college and were surrounded by thousands of other students, they felt quite alone not being able to interact with others via their social networking sites. Another student claimed that they use media to arrange social gatherings, and not being able to talk via the internet resulted in them not being able to plan something unless they bumped into their friends.

Furthermore, one student said that they could live without reading the news or watching TV, but they missed having their iPod and listening to music, which usually helps them ‘zone out and get their head straight’. Read more about this here on the withoutmedia.wordpress.com.

Would you be able to handle going unplugged and off the grid for 24 hours?

Image from withoutmedia.wordpress.com
Image from withoutmedia.wordpress.com

I sometimes wish that we still had actual conversations with one another without feeling the need to check our phones half way through because we received a notification. Yes, you could just turn your phone on silent, but what if it was an emergency…?

Our lives are full of tweets, Facebook posts and instagram likes, that even when we sit down to watch TV in the evening, we are even prompted to tweet about what we’re watching so we can ‘engage’ on a larger platform. But what was wrong with enjoying it with the people around you?

foodporn

Have you noticed when you go out for a meal how many people around you are taking photos of their food to put on instagram? (#foodporn) Or even the ones who have to go on their phones whilst waiting to be served, not even paying attention to the person in front of them or even having a conversation. Wasn’t that the point of going out for a meal on date nights?

food-porn-facebook

Even when we first meet someone, we can look them up online and find out their life story without knowing anything other than their name.

It’s crazy when you really think about how much of our lives is spent on our phones, and because we are using our phones all the time, we introduce children to them at younger ages each year (I saw a 6 year old the other day with an android phone).

Don’t get me wrong, I do the same thing. But it’s amazing how much you miss when you’re on your phones constantly, such as on the commute to work, there’s a beautiful world just outside that window.

Image from http://www.hongkiat.com/
Image from http://www.hongkiat.com/

We think that technology has opened us up to new places, such as being able to talk to someone half way across the world from us, and it’s true, but we start to ignore the ones sitting right in front of us. We need to find a balance where we can still live our actual life, instead of focusing on the one we create online.

Next time you go out for a meal with your friends or partner, put your phones in a pile face down on the table and play the ‘phone stack game’. Whoever reaches for their phones has to pay the bill.

o-PHONE-STACKING-GAME-facebook

Even if you stop checking your phone for an hour each day, or even turn it off when you go to bed, you’ll be surprised on how much of your life is passing by around you without you noticing it.

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