A Little Less Conversation

… a little less interaction please.

In today’s society, technology plays a big part in our lives. No one, myself included, can go a whole day without using their phone or laptop. As a generation we are heavily reliant on technology in everyday life, especially at university. Technology makes our lives so much easier in so many ways. But when does this become an addiction?

In my opinion, we have already become addicted to technology. There are no two-ways around it. Just because we can use the internet for everything doesn’t mean that we should. What happened to independent thought? Can we even think for ourselves anymore? Humans survived before technology, so why do we think we can’t anymore? We used to send letters as a means of communicating. We sent cards for birthdays instead of a post on Facebook. Stories were read from books and not from screens, and photos were kept in physical albums and not in the Cloud. These are the things I don’t want future generations to miss out on at the hands of modern technology.

One thing our generation is very guilty of is using social media to broadcast a perfect version of our lives. After all, what is the point of doing something if you’re not going to put it all over your Snapchat? How will people know how perfectly poached your eggs were if you don’t post a Boomerang of you cutting them? Nowadays there is unbelievable pressure to get as many likes as possible online. It is not healthy to base one’s self-confidence on the approval of people on social media, many of whose opinions you wouldn’t normally give a toss about. Something I am fully backing is Instagram’s new idea to hide the amount of likes a picture gets, with only the person who posted the photo being able to see the number of likes it receives. It’s ridiculous how much pressure I feel to get likes, and how much it influences which photos I choose to post. With this new feature we can feel more comfortable sharing the photos we actually want to share, and not the ones we think will get the most likes.

Whilst technology has improved the way we communicate and has, in a way, shortened distances between people, it has lessened our interaction with one another. We live in a world that is removing social contact and extinguishing local community through the manifestation of everyday technology. This issue was brought to my attention by the horde of new-ish self-checkouts that Cathays’ Lidl have introduced. I think it is sad how easy it is to eradicate even simple interaction between customer and cashier. That said, I know so many people that would prefer to avoid social interaction as much as possible. In many ways I understand this: I do not want to be judged by a cashier for buying a tub of Ben and Jerry’s and a bottle of Echo Falls on a Friday night, when a self-checkout machine is far less judgemental. Until there is an unexpected item in the bagging area, and it snitches on me. Issues like this could be easily avoided if we continued to have human cashiers instead of machines. Self-checkouts are not the only machines that threaten humanity. Humans have an ever-growing obsession with creating new gadgets, the most ridiculous of all these being the self-driving car. Imagine calling Dragon Taxis after a night out and not being able to ask your driver if they’ve had a busy night because they are now a robot.

Does a robot have better career prospects than me? As a student of English Literature, many of my friends would say yes, but it is sad that humans are becoming interchangeable with robots in this ever-modernising world. It’s becoming more common to get through a day without any interaction with another human, when actually human interaction is the key to leading a healthy and happy life. When that interaction is lost, things will begin to unravel.