Saturday, August 17, 2013

Facebook, Twitter, Apple et al - Helping us Make a Better Connection? Really?

It’s a world of instant gratification, where we’ve all been massively conditioned by a constant barrage of advertising and new, better, bigger – well, actually smaller – products every few months. A world where we’re all racing to save time and make more money to pay for all these new necessities. Or working way too hard for not enough money so the person or company we’re working for can buy whatever they want. If we’re in that scenario we’re imprisoned by our own prejudices against ourselves – that we don’t deserve anything better – and by a pretty generally accepted idea that’s it our fault we’re not more empowered.

Time is money but there isn’t enough of the former, ergo never enough of the latter. We’ve been taught with Machiavellian cleverness and in ways that we’re not even aware of that social media keeps us connected but in fact it keeps us distracted, uses up that precious time and leaves us starved for something real. Because the connections we make are long distance but immediate, often with shorter and shorter sentences composed of horribly distorted and truncated words.

Our minds are deluged with information that’s outrageously seductive and feels fulfilling but only for a few seconds. Then we need more. It’s not the real stuff of connection and fulfilment, it’s a drug and dangerously addictive.

We are the slaves of Apple, Facebook, Twitter et al. Devices get smaller and smaller and we use less and less of our physical capacity. Hunched over a tiny screen, using tiny movements of thumbs. Body tense. Eyes straining to see the print.There’s nothing pleasurable about it and nothing intrinsically good about lousy grammar and small, but we don’t question, we just buy, buy, buy and use, use, use. Or feel left out, left behind if we can’t afford to keep up.

We’ve been conditioned to believe that all this information, all these new and better products, this fast-paced life, is giving us more and more, making our world bigger and bigger.

It isn’t, though. It’s imploding in the places it matters the most. Our capacity to express creatively and originally. To really think for ourselves. To realize that the worthwhile things in life take time and space to develop, and that it’s the journey which brings fulfilment not the immediate achievement or gratification.

And what about our capacity to connect in a meaningful way face to face? Either we don’t have time, or we’re hooked on social media, which has made cowards of us all. We throw words and images out into cyberspace hoping somebody will like them and leave some kind of cryptic comment. But if they don’t, hey, we’ve moved on to something else anyway so we don’t care. There’s no risk-taking and very little reward, so it leaves us overstimulated and understroked; dessicated at a deeper level. With an overactive brain and an aching heart.

It's not hard to imagine where this could end up. A world where, even face to face, everybody’s desperate to be heard by a living, touchable human being – to have that real experience without which none of us can survive in those places it matters the most. So desperate that everybody talks but nobody listens.