More connected but less able to connect – how is technology changing us?
In the last 30 years, since the 1990s, technology has boomed. In 2022 alone, global smartphone shipments surpassed 1.2 billion units. Smartphones are sold and distributed globally and may be one of the only products to be known in every country. In fact, research has shown that 86% of people worldwide have access to a phone. This is higher than the number of people who have access to clean water (81%) and almost 20% more than people with access to safe sanitation stations (67%). This means that people are 22% more likely to have a phone than they are a safe sanitation station.
Technology and phone usage is not evil in itself. However, it has potential (as many other things do) to become an issue. However, it is such a reality globally. Due to this, it has an increased likelihood to be harmful. Often times, people tend to lean toward using devices instead of face to face connections for communication which not only damages their social skills but also trains the brain to rely on the dopamine hit which they receive when they ‘connect’ online.
Phones are global. Phones are powerful. So why aren’t we connecting better? In an age where connection should be so much easier, why is it seeming to become more difficult? We have to admit, we may feel more connected – we are able to communicate with loved ones far away or friends in our home country – but we are less able to connect. Especially in generation Z, a demand for community is prevalent like never before. We want to feel connected. We also don’t want to put our phones down. Connections – genuine, lasting connections – need to be made intentionally. Simply put, if we want friendships to last, their foundation must be solid. So often, loneliness drives us to attempt to connect with people we may barely know. A good question for us to ask ourselves when we want to connect with someone relatively unknown is this : are we valuing the feeling of connection or the people we are connecting with?
To conclude, it is not phones which cause us to feel less connected. It is the dependency we develop on social media for instant connection rather than deep, lasting connection. This dependency continues to tear us apart amidst constant attempts to connect with those around us. There is still hope for connection. Try putting your phone down and doing something mindful like journalling or working on a hobby you enjoy instead of searching for immediate gratification online that you are likely never to find.
Learn to live in the moment. “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new” -Socrates
Year 10 student