Is the digital world destroying friendships?

By George Caulton

Think of a world where your friends only talk to you via social media. Think of a world where people are becoming increasingly isolated and are constructed to be mere products of the advancement of digitalisation. Well, according to recent statistics from BT mobile, half of the population of Cardiff would rather communicate and stay in touch on a digital basis than the more traditional, social face to face meetings and discussions. In relation to the statistics and above comments, as the growth of social media participants continues to grow, the gap between human communication and digital communication is forever widening. Indeed, institutions such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram uphold the ability to send a message globally in an instant. But should this mean that younger generations grow up in a world where there is no imagination and lack of creative ability?

You may not entirely believe the fact that half of people would rather talk via phones and the internet, but if I was to tell you that in 2012 three quarters of children aged ten had possession of their own mobile phone, what would you think? If I was to tell you that more than one in ten children, aged between two and three have their own tablet, what would you think? The fact that this was in 2012, and digital technology has increasingly altered between now and then, suggests that society is isolating itself and advertisers and parents alike are isolating younger generations by promoting these products. However, the content of this article is not specifically about children, it is about more than 50 per cent of a population of people.

In an article on ITV online, statistics were released stating that “Cardiff residents share 26 videos a week with Facebook topping the list of ways people keep their cyber friendships alive (89 per cent) followed by email (70 per cent) and then text (67 per cent)”. Psychologist, Dr Peter Collett stated that “By nature, humans are social animals. Given that so much of our enjoyment is linked to other people, it’s hardly surprising that we invest so much time and effort into keeping in touch with friends and acquaintances”. Whilst what Dr Peter Collett may seem true, the era of digitalisation and of cyber friendships is showing that we are no longer social animals who have a want or desire to meet people physically. Rather than this, people would rather speak via emailing, texting and social media due to ease and accessibility.

In the New York Times, an article was released saying that roughly 84 per cent of people could not last a single day without their mobile phones. Many stated they would feel “lost”. The need to have a mobile phone in regards to social capacities is becoming increasingly more obvious, in both local and more global scenarios.

Despite this, there are of course some advantages of communicating digitally. Websites such as LinkedIn provide a service where employers can read CV’s and individuals can create a ‘self’ online. Websites such as this help graduates and employers communicate, where they usually would not meet in person, and can create an ‘e-relationship’. Facebook and Twitter also have advantages, such as being able to connect people from across the world, for instance, and allowing people to easily post and share their daily activities. Whilst these may be seen as positives, the issue at hand is the fact that half of people take advantage of these platforms and excessively use them which in turn has the capacity to both damage and isolate society.

Cyber friendships are undeniably increasing, and people would rather communicate via social media platforms and other modes of technology than speak face to face. Personally, I believe the statistics regarding Cardiff are devastating and will create a society where technology pervades the sphere of physical social communication. As new generations grow older, the statistics are only bound to increase.