As an alternative to meeting for a quick cup of coffee, my friend and I spent 45 minutes texting back and forth about our day. Next, instead of going in to talk to my lecturer during his office hours, I emailed him from home with my question. As of this, he never got to know who I was, even though he would have been a great source for a letter of recommendation if he had. I ignored a cute girl at the bus stop asking me the time because I was busy replying to a text. And I spent so much time on Social Media trying to catch up with my 1500+ friends, most of whom I hardly see and means to dispel even more as the absolute number of links I’ve made grows. By the way, the above was not a dream. This technological detachment is the today’s reality.
Day by day, Internet and cell phones technology seems to be slightly destroying the meaningfulness of interactions we have with others, separating us from the world around us, and leading to an imminent sense of isolation in today’s society. Rather of spending time in person with friends, we just make calls, text or direct message them. It may seem simpler, but we eventually end up seeing our friends face to face a lot less. Twenty messages can’t even begin to equal an hour spent chatting with a friend over lunch. Besides a smiley-face emoji is cute, nevertheless, it could never replace the ear-splitting grin and smiling eyes of one of your best friends. Facetime is essential, but we need to see each other.
This doesn’t just apply to our friends, it relates to the world around us. There’s somewhat intangible real and valuable regarding talking with somebody face to face. This can be vital for partners, potential employers, friends, and other recurring people that make up your everyday world. That individual becomes a significant existing human association, not just somebody whose disembodied text voice pops up on your or personal computer screen, iPad, and cell phone.
It appears we have further extended connections than ever in this digital world, which can be great for networking if it’s used correctly. The miserable fact of the matter is that most of us don’t. It’s also hard to keep up with 100 friends and we don’t even recollect their names. We need to start prizing the significance of quality in our connections, not sheer quantity.
One of my best friends has more than 2,000 Facebook friends. Sure, his posts get a lot of feedback, but then again when I asked him about the quality of those relationships, he said to me that he really has few friends that he can trust and spend time with happily. Using a strange conundrum like this as a constructive example, we must consider pruning our rampant online connections at the very least.
Last evolutionary psychology research by psychologist Robin Dunbar and British anthropologist has discovered that people are actually limited to a certain number of stable, supportive connections with others in their social network: roughly 200. Furthermore, recent follow-up research by Cornell University’s Bruno Goncalves used Twitter data to show that despite the current ability to connect with vast amounts of people via the internet, a person can still only truly maintain a friendship with a maximum of 150 to 200 real friends in their social network.
While technology has permitted us certain means of social connection that would have never been possible earlier, and has allowed us to preserve long-distance friendships that would have otherwise probably fallen by the wayside, the point remains that it is affecting ourselves to spread ourselves too thin, in addition to slowly ruining the quality of social interaction that we all need as human beings. So what are we doing with 3500 friends on the Internet? Why are we texting all the time? Seems like a big waste of time to me. Let’s spend more time together with our friends. Let’s make the relationships that count last, and not rely on technology to do the job for us.