Today we often read, hear about, or otherwise discuss how being constantly connected by technology through our smart phones and other devices to social media and the Internet is diminishing our appreciation for “real” conversations and building “real” relationships in the physical world. We are encouraged to unplug and disconnect as we fight very real urges to check our phone and update our status regardless of the appropriateness of the timing.
You are Bowling Alone while simultaneously we are Alone Together and all-the-while being told that You Are Not a Gadget. The connectivity is shortening our attention spans and ruining our ability to properly use grammar. As we travel through life we are looking down instead of around us.
Some of the concerns are valid and the discussion about how we are being affected is absolutely necessary. However, we do not focus enough on the positive impacts of these changes.
What are the upsides of looking down?
- In times that are challenging we can look to our social networks for encouragement.
- We have friends on almost every continent doing amazing things that inspire others.
- We are exposed to new ideas through casual sharing more often than in direct conversation.
- When tragedy or injustice strike anywhere in the world, we empathize immediately.
- When friends and family face tragedies like illness or death they simultaneously celebrate miracles of healing and birth.
For the latter half of the twentieth century we experienced growing apathy as we emphasized the individual and immediate family over the society. Looking down into our devices is like looking into a window that brings the entire world into your frame of vision. Because we have personal ties to all of these distant people and places we are becoming personally invested in their well being.
We are not simply looking down, we are observing the world. We are evolving and developing empathy for an ever expanding “immediate” family.