The year ending today, 2013 brought a slew of articles on the death of conversation and the disappearance of face-to-face connections because of the onslaught of social media. People more and more to look only at digital virtual reality and ignore what's going on around them. Talking or sending messages on mobile phones is said to now be a major cause of traffic accidents (one woman texting on her phone reportedly walked off a pier into the water). Sherry Turkle says we've replaced conversation with online connection.
Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this. But it’s a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference."The Flight from Conversation," urges people to look up from their devices and look at one another. The author of a book on how people relate to their gadgets, Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, she advocates an understanding of and a control over technology that seems less and less possible. Social media is a convenient scapegoat for many disenchanted with the way modernity (or even post-modernity) has turned out. In some ways they resemble the Luddites in early 19th century England who destroyed labor-saving machines that threatened to put them out of work and became a symbol for anyone who felt threatened by new technology.
I don't think so. My argument isn't very sophisticated: This is the way it is. This is what people choose to do in 2013. Accept it and quit bitching about it.
Conversations online and on LINE may be different from face-to-face interactions but they are still taking place and something is exchanged between human beings. I'm connected virtually with people I've known at every stage of my long life. We exchange thoughts, opinions about current events, gossip, movie reviews, pictures and birthday greetings. This is REAL communication, even if I'm at my computer in Bangkok and they're halfway around the world. Definitions that oppose "real life" to what we do with our devices are just as misleading and damaging as an addiction to the screen that makes looking into another's eyes difficult. It's all "real," not just your slice of it.