I am a user and a champion of social media, the internet, the cyberspace community and any technological mechanism or social structure which brings people together. Yet, I find that I spend more time with the operational formalities of these groups and media (such as returning emails, posting in groups, providing status updates, authoring and administering blogs and other emedia) than actually interacting interpersonally with my ever-increasing roster of self-professed friends and associates. The art of acquiring and amintaining true friendships is rapidly dying. I receive more text messages than telephone calls, and (for the time being), more emails than text messages. The warmth of someone' handshake, the sound of someone's voice, the promise of help or glimmer of compassion in another person's eyes...these are disappearing.
Even more alarmingly, the average teenager or young adult (13 years old to 25 years old) tends to text message at a rate of ten messages per hour during every waking moment of his or her young life. In actuality, these are really one-sided broadcasts, and not truly mutual communications. There is expediency without expression. There is little opportunity for depth, or active feedback. The very notion of conversation is fast becoming obsolete. The notion of friendly communion is all but gone. Our signals are becoming increasingly terse and one-sided, and the quality of our relationships is rapidly deteriorating. We are as lonely inside as loggers or country telephone linemen -- but we persist in this marathon of "connection collection" instead of bonding, which is an essential pysiological and psychological need for growth, development, education and, ultimately, a peaceful co-existence. We do much and share little. We are letting our frenetic lifestyles de-humanize us and de-civilize us. This trend is feeding the global economic recession and the global emotional depression.
As communication becomes more unilateral and discrete, we are losing conversation. We are losing the "tell" of body language and the warmth of physical closeness. The planetary signal-to-noise ratio is decreasing. This is sadly analogous to those situations where a busy work day only allows us 15 minutes for lunch, so we wolf down some fast-serve food, barely tasting it, not even digesting it properly, and ultimately winding up with headaches, ulcers and overweight.
This trend will continue until the resultant emotional and physiological health issues make existence into a complete, living hell. At that point, perhaps three, five or seven years from now, after the major pharmaceuticals companies have made an ungodly fortune on the sale of antidepressant and antianxiolytic drugs to most of the population, will someone re-invent the idea of socializing to develop relationships. And at that time, what we ordinarily did some 40 or 50 years ago will seem like a breakthrough. Further, the initiator who puts thi into action will be hailed as a genius and will be handsomely rewarded.
The following written segment was excerpted from a newsletter published by the World Future Society (http://www.wfs.org) one of the resources which I utilize in my trendspotting and forecasting activities:
LONELINESS IN AN INTERCONNECTED WORLD
The average American today has only a third as many friends as 25 years
ago, and one-fourth have no close confidants at all, according to
recently released data from medical researchers. The Internet may be
largely to blame, says Michael Bugeja, author of INTERPERSONAL DIVIDE
(Oxford University Press, 2005).
Many people have a swarm of friends on Facebook, but do they ever call?
"Friending" is not the same as "befriending"--being a friend--Bugeja
notes, arguing that instead of creating a global village, the Internet
has distracted and distanced us from each other.
One impact is that lonely people have no one to turn to in hard times,
whereas during the Depression people relied on each other. Now, when
people can no longer afford the communications devices they've come to
rely on instead of people, they become truly isolated. As a result,
suicide rates may increase, even among young children, Bugeja warns.
LISTEN to the Radio Health Journal podcast:
ORDER INTERPERSONAL DIVIDE by Michael Bugeja
My colleagues and I are working aggressively on perfecting the conceptual blueprint of the Global Interworked Cooperative Business Community (GICBC) as a possible organizational solution to this increasingly-devastating socio-economic loss. I will keep you posted through The Global Futurist, The Internationalist Page, and The National Networker Newsletter.
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