Connect to the Disconnected World
Connect to the Disconnected World
Signs of advancing technology are found everywhere: bite-size computers, wireless internet, and video chat mobile phone - Connect to the Disconnected World introduction. The computer, was once only affordable for big corporations as a work efficiency tool, is now found in almost every household. This ubiquity has fostered a revolution in how people form social connections. Now people can contact each other from every corner of the world with just a click. Communication technology is supposed to be a convenient way to keep people of all ages from all cultures “connected”. Undeniably, people can become much more involved with events happening around the world because of the lightning speed with which information is delivered by communication technology. Simultaneously however, some people seem to be less aware of what is happening around them. People are so consumed with overflowing buckets of information from the virtual world that their basic social skills are weakened. Technology weakens our basic social skills by replacing our innate communication “technology”, shifting our emotional reliance, and destroying chances for ordinary human interaction. Although people seem more connected, their online relationships require less emotional investment and divert more time and attention away from real-world relationships.
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First of all, excessive use of communication technology can impair our innate emotional means of communicating with one another. Sensory inputs are responsible for triggering our memory and perception process. In turn, our memories and perceptions affect our emotional feelings toward another person. Communicating via the internet can certainly give us a grasp of the fresh and intriguing information that people around us might not be able to provide. However, This type of communication only stimulates two of our human senses: seeing and hearing. Even these senses are not typically fully engaged. For example, text chat-rooms, and forums lack the ability to convey tones of voice or body-language cues such as posture and facial expression. When we cannot fully engage our senses and fully perceive information our ability to form a healthy emotional relationship with others is consequently impaired.
In the virtual world, oftentimes we receive tailored information or images presented in a way designed to manipulate us. This manipulation is not necessarily malicious, but a person in a chat has the ability to revise and adjust what is ‘said’ in the chat. This is an opportunity that does not exist in face-to-face communication. Social blunders or gaffes are more easily avoided by reconsidering what one says online than is possible in the real world. Additionally, because of the missing cues in the virtual world everything becomes abstract with little opportunity to interpret it through our senses. In contrast, social interaction in the real world with people around us stimulates all our senses. Sight allows us observe details that are masked under the mega-pixels. Smell provides cues for unique memory identification. Hearing allows us to perceive changing tones in speech. Touch and taste help reassure us of our comfort level and that of another individual. Together the senses help provide emotional interaction, the ninety percent of communication that is non-verbal. Replacing the innate “technology” everyone has with a flashing screen is not an effective way for people to connect.
Unnecessarily relying on communication technology can divert our sense of emotional support from people close to us to ‘friends’ in the virtual world. Confidence is more easily inspired in a virtual relationship than in a real one. Shyness or embarrassment is less of a barrier since one is protected somewhat by the anonymity provided by the screen name. Another feature of online chats that lowers barriers is that one has more control over whom one interacts with. A person may cut a virtual relation with little or no social sanctions. Taken together these characteristics may result in weaker social skills. When computers were not as common, people depended on close ties with friends and family for emotional support. Sometimes however, it is difficult to initiate a conversation about our feelings and private experience with people whom we know because of potential or actual embarrassment. Since virtual chat is so easy to use, it allows us to make a diverse collection of ‘friends’ quickly. With such a diversity of virtue friends whom we can reflect our experience on and find commonality with, it is likely that some people will avoid the emotional barriers of communicating with other people in the real world and overindulge in relating to their virtual friends on the Internet. They may eventually neglect interaction with people around them in favor of these virtual acquaintances. In a way, we connect to people when we are sharing our experience with them on-line, but simultaneously we are disconnecting ourselves from people in the real world because we no longer want to go through the risky emotional stages required when meeting real people. The quantity of friends can increase through the use of communication technology, but the quality of friends we make by this effortless and emotionally uninvolved means cannot be guaranteed.
Last but not least, communication technology undermines our chances to interact with people around us in the real world. For many people, from high school students to working parents, the computer plays an essential part in their life. It keeps them in close connection with our work and school. However, the “always connected” capabilities have allowed people’s school or business lives to become intertwined with our social lives. Much too intertwined for some people. Technology allows work to interfere with family time, and it is very difficult to disengage completely. Another example of computer eliminating chances of face-to-face human interaction is that we do not need any human interaction when we want to acquire information. For example, we do not need to interact with the sales person to enquire about the function of the product we want to purchase because everything is listed on the company’s website. With technology, chances of practicing our social skills are taken away; in fact, social skills are not even necessary in completing most tasks.
Some people might argue that communication technology accommodates people’s busy city life and allows them to keep in touch with each other. However, advanced communication technology actually helps to create a busy city life for many people. Email reminders of work and school schedules keep coming every minute making it become more difficult for people to relax and put the idea of work off one’s mind. As a result, people rely more and more on the virtual world to find comfort. People make up their lack of human interactions by socializing in the virtual world. It does not take much effort to maintain a friendship in the virtual world because usually the help sought or provided to each other is no more than a few pixels on a computer screen. As people cease to practice human social skills, misunderstanding often occur in real-life relationships. Therefore, people will favor virtual relationships and lock themselves away from the reality, thus give up on socialization.
In conclusion, communication technology has provided bridges to connect people from all over the world, however, spending time meeting people in the virtual world means less time to interact in the real world and practice the essential social skills such as conversational skills and emotional intimacy, stability, and control in different situations. Moreover, despite the convenience of the virtual world, there exists danger in meeting people via the Internet since the information tends to be written in favor of the presenter. Technology prevents the use of all our senses, this in turn, impairs our perception and judgment towards another person, and shifts our emotional priorities from interacting with real-life friends to virtual friends, and reduces our opportunities to emotionally interact with real people. Emotional interaction serves as a basis of forming a solid relationship, without this foundation the quality of a relationship will likely be fragile.