Paradox- Isolated Connection
I was recently watching a speech given in the film “The Great Dictator” from 1940 starring Charlie Chaplin, and the statements he made carry even more meaning almost 80 years later. He spoke of “machinery that gives abundance has left us in want.” Hearing that on my IPhone 6+ super duper handheld connection device made my stomach churn like the Bering Sea during a storm. We have more ways to connect today than at any point in history, yet many people are more isolated than before things due to things like social media. With one swipe of a finger, I can have a video chat with someone in the Philippines, but somehow the connection that is sought gets lost on the digital highway. I know so many people who will not answer a phone call yet have no problem texting late into the night. Somewhere along the way the deeply desired human need for connection has been confused by Tweets, Snapchats, and Tinder matches.
I cannot help but see how this is tearing the very soul away from who we really are. The temptation to post a selfie with the best makeup and newest pair of Jordans in hopes of gathering likes has become the yardstick which the masses use to measure self worth. The hurtful things that people say across the ocean of technology about another person’s post can still create destroy a person even if not done face to face. People tend to be more bold about their opinions when hiding behind a screen with miles of distance between them. The old saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a lie that has been handed down for decades. The bruises on the outside heal eventually, but the internal ones caused by words can last a lifetime. I believe that most people are well intentioned at their core and would never say the things they say to another person’s face, but technology has given them a false sense of security and a place to be brutal without seeing the effects of their negative words.
How many times have you gotten a text or email and felt hurt or upset only to find out that the intention of said message was the exact opposite? In my own life, I have not only burned bridges, I blew them up. Jobs and relationships have disappeared with a quick tap of the send button. Just turn on the news in any town and see the discord that can be sown by a single message that has gone viral only to be misunderstood and taken out of context. It has been stated that only 7% of any message is conveyed through words, and this is if the communication is direct and in person. The number dramatically decreases when it is through words on a screen or an “app.” Is it any wonder that the breakdown of moral compass, ethical behavior, and plain old decency has increased since the first modem dialed up to the world wide web?
This message is not to say that technology in and of itself is evil at all. Through the dramatic advances made by this, we have seen many amazing things. Things like cures for certain diseases, the ability for people to “connect” , and efficiency in delivery of goods and services. My concern is the loss of people truly caring and looking out for one another. I don’t want to see another person commit suicide, homicide, or any other heinous act in real time via any given smart phone application. Use these things for their innate value, but don’t let them define who you are as a uniquely created person with immense worth and potential.