The Great Disconnect: Technology and Real Life
Profiles and Punchlines
What does an online profile have in common with a punchline? They're only half of the whole, completely lacking in substance without the other half. A punchline is nothing without a joke or question and a profile is nothing without experiencing the person in a real way. In essence, you are trying to cross the finish line before beginning the race.
Years ago there was The Great Depression during which people actually connected more with their families and friends. They spent time with them and built relationships, forming a close community strong enough to endure their economic hardships.
Today, we are in another deep depression, but the downturn of the economy is the least of our worries. The most substantial concern here is what I'll simply refer to as The Great Disconnect. We'll eventually get over this economical crisis, but the disconnect between people is having lasting effects.
Where are we headed?
While technology continues to make it easier to "connect", it simultaneously, makes it easier for people to spread themselves thin, give away too much info, have less interaction with those in their immediate environment (family, etc), and experience people in a less personal/ real way. We may be connected through wires and world-class technology, but we are eliminating most of our natural abilities to truly connect.
You can argue that you've been able to deeply connect with people, such as those on hubpages and I have one very personal question for you- how old are you? The older generations already know how to truly connect with people because they've had in-person, real experiences do so. When older generations make friends online, they know how to get to know someone on a personal level because of that real life experience. Whereas younger generations don't have those experiences to draw from. They've grown up in the disconnect.
Entire generations will have issues connecting with someone in person. You can add to that, social problems, social withdrawal, and misread social cues. The younger folks currently have a hard time differentiating their real life from their online personas. Who you are is what your profile states and what anyone says about you on it. Instant gratification also means instant rejection.
Technology precedes coping abilities and experience for many of its users. The technology comes along that places everyone inside everyone else's lives and homes with no thought of how we deal with the consequences. It wasn't until experiences with online predators became commonplace when guides for parents were created.
I would love to see the continuation of new and exciting technology, but also along with awareness of consequences far preceding the technology. The creator of facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, reported not knowing what the consequences were or where it could lead to, even in the future. It's like watching a train wreck coming down the tracks.
Technology isn't as worthwhile if you don't have real life experiences to draw from. For example, if you participate in online dating, it won't be helpful if you don't have real experience with various types of people so that you can recognize those types online. There is also a disconnect between what older generations and parents know about the Internet compared to their tech savvy kids.
In no other area of one's life is it more important to really know someone than when you are searching for love. How do people connect when utilizing online dating resources? Not enough people know the answer to this. View a person's online dating profile as a hand-shake or a "wink" and nothing more. Online chatting is simply first date chit-chat. Personal, in-depth conversations should be reserved for old the old fashioned ways- talking on the phone and in-person dates.
How to connect in a real way
Technology isn't the problem. The issues lie within the combination of technology and people. How capable are we setting limits and creating balance to maintain the very real human side of us. Technology has a way of building us up on the outside and therefore placing overall importance on that, rather than the closeness we were made for and inner enrichment.
- If you must have an online profile, leave a little mystery and keep it fairly private. People would much rather belong to an exclusive group than one in which everyone is accepted with no discretion.
- Your technology should match your needs. Don't buy the newest technology or participate in the newest online social groups without first deciding whether you need it. If it will actually help you in your life, and doesn't create a time suck, then you should consider it. If you don't have a job that requires it, you really don't need to be connected by mobile.
- Don't lose touch with those who don't participate in online social websites. Take time to email them, send pictures and talk on the phone. One of my best friendships is with someone whom I have written, by pen and paper (remember that?) for over 20 years. She lives on a large farm and simply doesn't "do" technology (no need and no time), but I've kept that relationship strong and taken the time to write all these years.
- Limit texting. Texting is extremely impersonal. Appropriate texting is short and sweet, not entire conversations. Almost no good has come of texting, especially while driving or dating.
- State your standards. I let people know ahead of time, I don't text. I've stated my standards and people are aware of it. Sometimes I respond to a text, but people should know not to expect it.
- Limit checking in on your social profile(s) if it's not necessary for your job. People can get addicted to profile scores, number of friends, and status updates. If you are checking them more than twice a day, you are likely yearning for a more intimate in-person or talking on the phone type of connection. People check their profiles so often, seeking what they are missing, which is a real connection or reassurance.
- Become more fluent in tech speak and reading between the lines. What kind of status update is a call for help and possible suicide? Asking specifically what emotions someone is experiencing rather than relying on emoticons, etc.
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