A few months back I was involved in a Twitter chat about Travel. We were discussing the impact that social media had on travel and whether that impact was positive or negative? I have to admit I was torn. Here was the answer I gave:
It really got me thinking – if technology was able to have such profound impacts on a travelling habit, what is it doing to our relationships? In short, is technology helping or hindering relationships?
My initial thought was immediately a positive one. Living away from home and being in a long distance relationship, technology allows me to maintain relationships with those I wish were closest to me but can’t be. I am able to feel close to them, hear their voices and see their faces. It is the same with friends back home. Even now my friends from University are just a phone call away and I can always count on the group chat for a bit of motivation when I’m feeling down, usually in the form of ‘YASSS QUEEN SLAY’ (It’s kind of like I get to be a drunk girl in a toilet whenever I need it).
Other relationships that immediately came to mind was my relationship with other bloggers and people I have only ever come across through the world of social media. I have come across some wonderful people and genuinely feel as if I have a much wider support network than I would have had without social media. Naturally not every encounter is genuine one but that is surely the same when you meet people face to face. You can never truly know another persons motive and I think that not being face to face definitely makes it even harder, but online interactions have taught me a lot about the impact words can have on another individual and I have become a lot more considerate and empathetic.
However, there are certainly cons to the impact our ever-advancing technology is having upon of social interactions and consequently the relationships that we make. A very interesting (and important) point was raised in the chat by @wanderingpram.
If we apply this reduced need to be social to relationships we can certainly see how technology has the potential to seriously hinder them. Sure, it is great that answers are now only a few clicks away but that means google becomes the local sat in a bar or the person walking down the street who looks like they know where they’re going. We avoid interaction because it is no longer necessary to the point that when interaction is necessary we recoil in fear. Being told by google that your search was unsuccessful is a lot easier than the feeling of rejection that potentially comes from face to face interactions.
Last year I secured a place on the News UK Summer Internship where we had to opportunity to visit Unruly a marketing and advertising agency based in London. When there we were given a tour of a ‘house of the future’. This house had everything! The mirror could tell you if your outfit matched and what Zara shoes would go best with those black trousers – ‘They’re currently in the sale, would you like me to order them for you?’ The fridge would order your butter for you if you were running low, the bath would run itself if you needed a soak – the house did EVERYTHING, all you had to do was log in. What might surprise you is that this ‘house of the future’ was actually a house of 2020 – 2 YEARS AWAY! Obviously the vast majority could never afford technology like this but it would be there as an option for some. This level of technology meant that you would literally never have to leave the house should you not want to. You would never have to interact with anyone again apart from the person who delivered your groceries that your cupboard ordered for you when you were running short.
Technology and the impact of social media is certainly not black or white. In fact, it’s kind of a messy grey sort of colour. The sheer pace at which technology is developing terrifies me. In the house of 2020 I was simultaneously in awe and horrified. I never want to be in a situation where I don’t have to leave the house. Face to face social interactions and fulfilling and allow us to develop as individuals. However, interactions on social media too have allowed for me to develop patience, empathy and a willingness to be proven wrong. Just as with everything in life, it seems to be a case of small doses. As Sirius Black ever so wisely said (how do I manage to bring everything back to Harry Potter?):
“We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”
The impact technology has on relationships, whether it helps or hinders, is ultimately down to us. What matters IS the part we choose to act on.
Technology can never rival the closeness of face to face interaction, but the reality is that is not always possible and when it isn’t I am grateful for technology being there to give a helping hand.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this, let me know in the comments below!