Through the looking glass

Modern technology has been developed to simplify our lives, but it is also driving us apart. Today we use technology such as cell phones, satellites, robots and world-wide business chains. We have created software to make thinking tasks easier and hardware to make physical jobs easier.
But at what cost?

People once had no choice but to go to someone’s house to speak with them, lest they be forced to send them a letter. Then telephones arrived, and no longer did we need to actually see someone to talk to them.

Computers soon followed, and now we don’t even need to leave the room to interact with others. We chat, send e-mail, and network with each other through the Internet, sharing thoughts, pictures, videos and sounds. This can all happen from your desk chair.

Even finding dates no longer requires going out to the bar or club. Online dating sites are rapidly increasing in number and even have prime-time commercials on television. Everything can be done from a comfortable place, your own safe haven.

Today’s society is constructed so that interactions between people are through a screen; our generation’s looking glass is the computer monitor.

That’s where the dilemma lies. Immediate communication allows us to make superficial decisions and choose some people and some ideas over others. This context doesn’t allow for us to gauge people as they really are, it doesn’t allow us to learn about others. With our dependence on technology we can’t live and interact with others socially.

Without e-mail or telephones we could not have the buffer that allows us to hide what we truly think and feel. We are so used to having the time to decide what we want to say in an e-mail, that it shocks us to realize we might have to think on the fly in order to co-exist with the people around us.

However, technology does serve us well if we have family across the world and need to keep in touch, or if we want to shorten the time it takes to make things happen. Without the current world network, how would we ever know who was dating who or what other shenanigans people were up to?

What we’re left with is a costly paradox. In a society where we have the capability to talk to anyone we want in the world, we don’t even take the time to know our own neighbours.