My aunt is thinking about getting rid of WiFi at her house. When she told me, my jaw literally dropped.
“What are you going to do?” I asked, absolutely stunned.
“Meditate, relax, actually talk to people” she replied unfazed.
After this conversation, I started thinking of all the ways I was tethered to WiFi. I use WiFi for homework, entertainment, and conversation. I have the option of texting, FaceTimeing, or calling anyone on my laptop or cell phone. These tools have helped me and my high school friends stay in close contact, despite the hundreds of miles between us. My mom was especially nervous about how I would stay in touch with my family from over 200 miles away. But, creating a family group text and Snapchat have helped us update each other. Social media widens the scope of people you are in contact with. Facebook gives us the option to share photos, status updates, and share articles with all of our “friends”. On Facebook, you connect with people who are not your immediate friends that you see on a day to day basis. Before, you would typically only share photos with people you have face to face contact with. Social media platforms create the option to share photos with, potentially, everyone you have ever met. This can be viewed as a great opportunity to get to know a broader range of people. This creates the chance to open channels between people that before could have never been explored. Another view of the increasing use of social media is that is weakens real life relationships.
The temptation to be on your phone, even with a group of people, is very strong. This multitasking of friendships is disadvantageous in that the quality of real life friendships or your personal online persona will suffer. The quality of both will dwindle, or one will become increasingly less important than the other. I believe that life lived in the real, outside world is better than one lived online. Real life interactions have facial expressions and body language, which add a depth to conversations that are missing from online interactions.
Conversations between people were not meant to be confined by only words. Passionate discussions over text lack facial expressions that add more meaning to words; emojis can only go so far. Sometimes you have to break out in a happy dance during a story, something else texting doesn’t allow. The dependence on device-centered conversation has taken a toll on young people. For example, potential police officers training to join the force require communication skills training. This is just one example of how online communication has hindered a generation’s ability to converse effectively in real life. I do not believe everyone is attached to their phones and solely focused on online relationships, but an overwhelming number seems to be more worried about social media than their real social lives. This has changed the way people meet, which in part created the industry of online dating (which has become increasingly popular for every age group).
I was so shocked my aunt was considering taking herself off the grid because it seems everything in my life is connected to the grid. While it seems like an advancement, it also hurts person to person contact, which is what ultimately sets humans apart from animals.