by Robin McGrath
USA Today dubbed the year 2010 as "the year we stopped talking to one another." Approximately 93% of us use cell phones or wireless devices to connect with each other. But are we really connecting?
I know I'm guilty of it: sitting at dinner with friends with my cell phone on the table ready to interrupt any conversation to check an incoming text. The sad thing though is that all of those friends are doing the same.
We are so busy connecting with each other electronically, thinking that we are more connected today than in past years but are we? Or are we lonelier today, on a whole, than we used to be? According to some doctors, although we feel we're connecting more, thanks to technology, we are actually - paradoxically - creating more of a feeling of social isolation.
When you're connecting electronically, you are connecting with an inanimate object: your cell phone, tablet, lap top. Regardless of what kind of device you are using, it is just that. A device. And connecting electronically is done in a two-dimensional format. You are only reading or writing words on a screen. You aren't hearing the laughter of your friends or loved ones when you read LOL on the screen. Communications are also easily misinterpreted via technology. More than 55% of communication is done through the use of body language. How can you truly communicate - connect - 100% when you're missing out on more than half of the experience?
Some would argue that technology has made connecting with people better because now they are able to stay in touch with friends and family living a world away. This is true. But has it made it better for our our day-to-day relationships? Not necessarily. We aren't present with the people we are with face-to-face because of our technology, because we're willing to interrupt human interactions for technological distractions.
And others would argue that without technology they would not have met their soul mate. It's true that online dating sites help people find love. Today we are able to find people we are more compatible with via the internet. But many times hours are wasted sifting through misrepresentations, emailing each other only to find out neither of you are who you thought the other was, only to have to return to square one again. Because of technology, you are missing out on the human interaction. That split second of knowing more than "she's really smart" or "he's really funny". That split second in which chemistry and gut instinct kick-in and tell you, "go for it" or "just walk away".
Technology does help us connect in many ways to friends and family but it also has the ability to disconnect us. We have to become more concious of these disconnections and learn to change our behaviours so that when we are connecting with the people around us we are truly connecting with them.