Sunday, March 13, 2011

Has the Digital Age Made us Less Social?

I would say the answer is yes. People are less social since logging on. At least from my standpoint they are. In my old neighborhood people got together all the time. True we had small children and everyone was from the city but people did seem to crave interaction. The digital age came along and we moved. Two things that killed our interaction. Living in a far reaching suburb tends to increase isolation and without the bond of children to push you into other peoples lives then you certainly interact less. We still have children, lots of them, but our interaction or socializing has plummeted.

So my first reaction was to blame it on the move. Naturally we had done this to ourselves. But when I went back and saw my old friends and they told me that no one in the neighborhood got together anymore. That the new people just didn't seem that interested in getting together. Generational maybe? A passing of the torch not passed.  But still I persisted. Surely people still wanted to get together. Calls made and not returned. Busy schedules yes. Surely other people were socializing and it was just our own problem.

But as I got together with my own friends it seemed nobody was burning down the social totem pole anymore. A lot of people had not done anything social in months. Some blamed it on weather, kids situational events such as sick parents. But I have come to believe the era of socializing as a way of trading the ideas of the heart and mind has either ended or is definitely on the low side of our Google ranking. People have filled in this gap with their computers through the various mediums of Facebook, Twitter, Email, skype and just good old fashioned surfing. In short we have short circuited our primitive brains desire to seek out others with a glowing screen and bits and bytes of information.

It is easier for one thing to chat online than to try and schedule a get together. Throw in kids and over scheduled parents and the computer is way easier. Facebooking does give back something with it's pictures and the inevitable nomenclature of personal life. People seem to be able to fill in a natural desire to swap pictures and family tidbits in paticular. Men can lose themselves in information and send short noncommittal texts. CANT GET TOGETHER. SWAMPED. MAYBE NEXT MONTH. The point is even the conversation on the phone has been circumvented where socialization which has to be defined now as the unknown occurrence could occur.

Throw in a recession and you have the Perfect Storm of the nation that does not socialize but computerizes. People who live essentially isolated lives of techno driven interaction. And it is not human. Humans get delight from a smile or a laugh or the unbridled bit of information that comes in during a conversation. It is the Cheers Bar of our yesteryear that has become the real casualty of our digitial preference. Text you more later.
Rocket Man will come out April 26th 

Books by William Hazelgrove