When people cannot put a sentence together, cannot add small numbers in their head, cannot focus in a real-life conversation, avoid one-to-one personal contact, and end up spending hours a week playing video games, or being online…while missing out on opportunities to engage with others in shared activities, it concerns me for how people think, act and ultimately relate to each other and society. I am not one of those who buys the idea that people in the digital age are alienated. I don’t mean that people don’t feel alienated. I just mean that we are putting too much of the blame for alienation on technology. Indeed, regarding alienation I suspect that technology does more good than harm, and this will be even more true going forward…if not abused.
I, for one, do remain concerned about the future for those growing up in and being educated in the digital age. Although the concerns apply to all ages since we are also displaying the same bad habits as younger ones. The idea that most people are not going to succumb to the digital age and make wise choices is certainly not born out by what most of us see (anecdotally) around us in everyday life. We need, as a society, to be more focused and more aware of each other’s humanity. In some ways, that is aided by digital technology. But in many ways it is not. And most people are NOT capable of even monitoring their own lives to see how/if digital technology is enhancing it or undermining it.
People in general are becoming far more skilled in how to used their hand-held devices without intruding on the space of others. We have got cashiers in supermarkets who are texting with one hand while inputting/scanning with the other. AND talking on the phone as well or surfing the Web on their iPhones. Multitasking is all people seem to do today given the availability of digital toys. Even when multitasking puts them at risk (as in driving).
I’m not so sure there is a “solution,” or even if there’s a “problem,” which implies there’s a solution. It seems to me there are trends within any social group. If isolated, there is an implication that the problem group is emblematic, which takes them out of the larger context of society as a whole. I’m stating the obvious in advocating for an individualized approach. I’m not sure what “solutions” there might be, nor am I convinced that they wouldn’t be worse than the problem.
I can remember at the turn of the century going out to eat could be rudely interrupted, or comically entertaining depending on the mobile phone user – people playing with their phones when they should be enjoying the meal and the conversation.
I mean—it’s just so inappropriate …and rude.
And it’s the norm now.
Even at the theatre, people seem to understand that the reminder to turn off the phone means them, not the person sitting in the next seat.
I see the narrow perspective on the large canvas of the world every single day: people staring into screens and talking to their pockets while around them, the 3-D world continues to turn, unnoticed. I look around and see more obsession and devotion to machines and fantasy than ever before. If our planet is in trouble, why are scientists ecstatic over photographs of dry hills on Mars?
Maybe it’s just me, but that scares me.
Real life means real interaction with people. Period!!!