If you’re reading this you are probably at least somewhat savvy about the internet. As I write this, I have my Facebook, Twitter, Pineterst, Gmail, Tumblr, and personal website all lined up at the top of my lap top screen. Ok, so maybe I have a *little* problem with closing my Google Chrome tabs. Sometimes I refer to myself as an internet tabs hoarder (for the record, I just looked this up and this is an actual thing)! The fact is, by choice or not, everyone in society today—particularly us #quarterlifers — is literally drowning in technology that brings us “closer together.”
I recently came across this video, which warns us that all of these tools that we use to keep ourselves connected to one another are, in actuality, making us lonelier.
Beyond the illusion of closeness with people we know, shows like Catfish and To Catch a Predator warn us about the dangers of revealing too much about ourselves online to strangers. We are taught that any new person that we meet online is either out to make fools of us, molest us, or con us out of all of our money. They are also probably obese, or have acne problems, or are 80 years old. How an 80 year old manages to work a chat room I don’t know, seeing as my 60 year old mother can barely work a DVD player.
Yet usage of social media and related instant communication tools like texting, Snapchat, Vine, etc show no signs of slowing down. With all of this varying propaganda, it seems that using types of tools to an extreme is something akin to treating yourself to Taco Bell after a hard day at the office—something that everyone does but is ashamed to admit, and will readily berate anyone else for doing.
I will readily concede that messaging your address to a stranger on Facebook is probably not the best idea. Similarly, I’ll agree that texts and picture messages with friends can’t take the place of face-to-face interaction with someone. However, does that mean that people who regularly use these tools should be led to believe they are inherently lonely, shallow, inauthentic and seeking substitutes for real relationships? Should people who prefer these modes of communication be, in a sense, shamed for the way that they communicate best and most comfortably?