Is Technology Making Us Antisocial?
We connect with our friends and family more and more now with our mobile devices but if we unplugged temporarily, would we be left feeling alone in a crowd?
I was talking with my sister-in-law recently and she mentioned that she started using the automatic check-out feature at her grocery store. She said it was only when she got home that she realized she had shopped and checked out and hadn’t spoken to anyone. She pointed out that on some days the clerk at the grocery store may be the only adult she speaks to all afternoon.
I added that you can use the banking machine at the bank rather than go to the teller and not talk to anyone there either! Even in the bank machine line-ups the people are often on their cell phones, texting or talking, paying more attention to their cyber connections than to the people around them. What does it mean to us that we can go all over town without speaking to a single soul?
Technology is definitely making us antisocial.
Or is it? FaceTime visits are replacing phone calls and Instant Messaging is keeping me in touch with my daughter who is away at university. Contrast that with my time in university when I called home once a week.
Technology is making us more sociable!
And what is the impact of technology on our communities? Just as we are now surprised when we phone a business and a person answers instead of a machine, we are startled when a stranger speaks to us in public. I live in a small town yet even here technology is prevalent. When I am in a line-up at the grocery store, the Post Office or the bank and I speak to someone else in line, the energy shifts dramatically because it’s so unexpected.
Dictionary.com provides this definition of “antisocial” : “contrary to the laws and customs of society; devoid of or antagonistic to sociable instincts or practices”. Maybe technology is not making us antisocial – maybe it’s redefining the “customs of society”.
Is technology making us more sociable or more antisocial? Does it divide or unite us? If you unplugged as you went about your daily business in town, do you think you would feel “alone in a crowd”?
Photo credit: Sougata Ghosh