Left on read: The implications of the internet era on human interactions.
In the Internet Era, we have grown accustomed to depending on the virtual world. The weight of a phone in our possession – whether it be in a hand or back pocket – offers what seems to be an irreplaceable sense of security. Technology allows for easy and efficient communication; just shooting a quick text to your friend, or sliding into someone’s DMS, gives us access to global friendships. Undeniably, the progression of tech has positively impacted all our lives. However, we have turned a blind eye to the severity of its harmful effects.
People naturally relish comfort (I mean, who can blame us?) but the limitlessness of the internet forces people to lose sight of reality. Does the serotonin you get from watching your followers increase really compare to going out and having a blast with your friends in real life? Could the effort and commitment you put into maintaining that 300-day streak on Snapchat be placed elsewhere?
Spending hours on a piece of technology has become a societal norm and an immovable aspect of life. With our dependency on technology, we forget about our priorities and responsibilities. We then turn back to the internet, hoping to escape any problems we have to deal with – thus, participating in an endless loop. Social media becomes our social life, strangers become our therapists, and we lose the need to form personal connections (sans internet persona(e)). We fall into denial about our real-world relationships hanging on by their last thread under the guise of our thriving mutuals online. It reaches the point where too much effort and energy is required to salvage those friendships that were once promised for a lifetime.
Loneliness, however, is subjective: for example, people may spend all day alone without feeling lonely. Call me cliché, but I know I prefer the burden of getting ready to see people rather than facing the humiliation of being left on read. I know that that is merely my personal opinion. (I am forever in favor of arguing the pros of social media with outdated millennials). While the complete replacement of in-person adventures with daily Facetimes is arguably unhealthy, it doesn’t have to make everyone lonelier. Frankly, it may do the exact opposite. For those that feel trapped and restrained by their physical communities, it opens up opportunities to connect. I realize that the internet helps us meet new people but I do wish it wasn’t so consuming of our time and lives. It isn’t loneliness I fear, but the routine and habit of ease.
Inherently, no, the advancement of technology does not directly make us lonelier; in fact, it opens up countless possibilities to connect. But I believe in “an eye for an eye,” as Hammurabi once said. We may flourish with the new soul siblings we connect with everyday through the internet, but we must also cope with the loss of our neglected relationships outside the internet. It is up to each individual to decide what to prioritize and what to sacrifice – or, if multitasking is a strength, what the perfect balance is.