Sometimes it’s hard to believe that just a couple of decades ago the internet was a relatively new thing. Kids played games on the street instead of online, dating didn’t involve a computer matching algorithm, and hanging out with friends meant that you went out and met them – in person! Today, the prevalence of e-mail, texting, Skype, video gaming and conferencing, online media, and social networking has changed our lives as profoundly as cars and jet planes changed the lives of previous generations.
It’s not just that the methods of interaction are different; it’s the effect that they are having on us as human beings. Despite all this electronic ‘connectivity’ – or maybe because of it – people are feeling more and more isolated. There’s a whole slew of articles and studies out there linking social media especially with increasing loneliness, bullying, depression and anxiety.
But I believe that’s like holding a box of matches responsible for starting a fire. We can’t blame the medium for the message. Social media is intended to be a way to communicate widely and quickly, but so often it becomes a platform for the vain, the mean, and the just plain silly. Real information, intelligent discussion and valuable insights often get lost in the avalanche of posts.
While I’m very interested in interesting things that interesting people have to say, not everything is of interest. As Elaine once said on Seinfeld, “I can’t spend the rest of my life coming into this stinking apartment every ten minutes to pore over the excruciating minutia of every single daily event.”
Now you may be reading this and thinking, THIS is excruciating minutia. I apologize. All I’m saying is, just once in a while, put down the mouse, step away from the computer, and connect – to the offline world.