We have entered a time when the technology we carry in our hands has become more important than human interaction. Texting and the emergence of the selfie have become the norm. It is hard to imagine that this new focus on self and lack of direct face-to-face interaction can mean something positive about how we live, love and deal with each other.
As a father of two high school teenagers in my house, I have inside look into the trends of society, and what I've seen is unsettling. Despite my attempts to deter the behavior, what I witness is the permanent presence of the cell phone. If we are in the car, the cell phone is usually out. If we are at dinner, the cell phone is always at the ready. When we are watching TV or a sporting event, the thumbs are very quick to spring into action to text a friend.
We have become the victims of our technology. Our phones are a convenience of course, but they have also made it way too easy to ignore real interaction. It seems the talking component of the phone is completely wasted as the preferred method of communication is the text. On several occasions I have witnessed long texting sessions and had to ask, “Why not just pick up the phone and talk?” The response has usually been just a look that indicated my idea was beyond preposterous.
Of course, you can't mention cell phones without mentioning its demon offspring: the selfie. Selfies are possibly the worst new development brought along by our cell phones. It used to be people took pictures of their surroundings so they could admire and remember moments. Nowadays people have a requirement to take pictures of themselves in those moments, with their visage being more important than the surroundings much of the time. It has become the ultimate tool of narcissicism, with more and more people taking several pictures of themselves before literally picking their best face to show to the social media universe. That pose, of a person with their arm stretched out, holding a cell phone aimed not at the world, but at themselves, seems like a quite appropriate statement on who we are today.
Scroll through Facebook, Instagram and probably any social media site and what you will likely see are more selfies than pictures of anything else. People have decided looking at themselves is more interesting than looking at the world around them. It seems like people feel a need to prove they exist, to themselves or someone else I suppose. The new philosophical question has become, "If you do something and no one sees your selfie of it, did you really do it at all?"
The interesting question here is similar to the chicken or egg problem. Is the technology making us this way or were we always narcissistic and now we've just been provided more tools to express and nurture it? Who knows. But the result is we now live in a world dominated by personal handheld devices. What comes next doesn’t seem to bode well for a world of personal connections.
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