The sun glittered like molten gold as the sun set on the Charles River. The way different shades of color blended into one another on a canvas of clouds was absolutely breathtaking. I soaked in the moment; just standing by the water, breathing nature in. Yet after those few minutes of solitude, I wanted to capture the moment by camera and post it on Facebook. Reveling alone in the moment was not enough. I wanted to share it, tweet perfectly instagrammed pictures of it.
Rousseau once said “Man is born free and yet everywhere he lives in chains.” (Social Contract). Sometimes I feel that in the 21st century, technology might be the chains that bind us. With our eyes glued to screens, and our hands fettered to QWERTY keyboards, are we really free to be ourselves? Can 140 character tweets, and “what’s on your mind” statuses really reflect what it means to be human? Rousseau said man in the state of nature was free; but we’ve come a long way from that state. It’s easy to escape reality in the world of social media. As people live tweet Real Madrid games, instagram Super Moons and Four Square every place they’ve ever checked-in, how authentic is our human experience? What drives our urge to share moments in our lives with loved ones and friends, but even increasingly with strangers?
In my anthropology class on evolution, my professor emphasized man’s primal need to connect with others around him. Man, like other primates is driven by an urge to live in communities and create social bonds. In fact, it is these ties and connections that led man’s advancement over other creatures. But can technology strengthen these ties, or have we regressed into artificial forms of social interactions where these bonds diminish. After all, you cannot truly feel emotion over texts and posts. You have the option to turn it all off.
Sherry Turkle put it the best:
Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this. But it’s a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference.
Has our increasing need to connect to those around us unconsciously caused us to drift apart from them? Some argue that social skills continue to diminish as a result of social media, which will be an ironic twist of affairs. As we type away our thoughts on internet forums to an audience that may or may not listen to us, how far do we bridge the gap between connectivity and connection?
As human interactions continue to evolve in strange and unexpected ways, it’s interesting to consider if we’ll end up disconnecting ourselves from all things human. Will our need for customized gadgets, carefully selected music, edited timelines, and even our own newspapers lead us to marrying the perfect robot one day?
Blogging about all this: irony at its best 🙂