Monday, August 30, 2010

Technology isolates the individual

We now live in a world that is more connected than ever, no thanks to Facebook and Twitter. Yet many individuals are more alienated from the real world - the physical network of friends - than ever before. The trend probably started way before Facebook and Twitter, so let me go back a little.

I guess it must all have started with the Sony Walkman. Prior to the Walkman, people would gather together around a radio or a hifi system as they listened to their favourite hits. When the Walkman came, many people were seen wearing the earphone. This created an invisible space around them. Just put on the earphone and they are shut inside their own world.

The personal computer then became more and more a personal item as costs came down. People started to do more things on the computer. Like everything else, too much of a good thing is bad for you. Now we pay our bills online instead of going outside and meet people; we email one another instead of talking on the phone; and we seek information online instead of consulting with one another. Can you see how we are shrinking into a shell that we have built around us?

It got worse. Computer games came along and became an inescapable pastime that simply ate into mealtime, and rolled over into bedtime. Instead of having real physical activities, children and adults alike engage in simulated actions on the screen. As if that is not enough, Facebook and Twitter came along. I am not saying these are all bad per se, but it is how some people have driven these to the extreme that is causing them to become isolated from reality. They gradually become disengaged from the physical world, slowly losing their circle of friends. Is the human population going back into the caves?

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