How technology is creating social isolation and impacting our health

“We are social in a more elemental way: simply to exist as a normal human being requires interaction with other people” – Atul Gawande

There is nothing new in the concept that technology is helping us become more connected, but making us become more disconnected then ever before. We are starting to rely more on chatbots, Siri and Alexa to communicate then to real humans. In the office we are connecting with coworkers that are down the hall using slack and online messages as opposed to talking to them. We may be more connected, and life may be more efficient and simplified, but have these shortcuts the best solutions as much as we are using them?

As we continue to leverage technology, the way we interact changes. We find less of a reason to talk to someone in person. This is slowly conditioning our minds to form habits and avoid speaking to people. Its slowly becoming a norm to not even speak to random people now or people skills. You get in an elevator, and your the weird guy for speaking, your in line for coffee/groceries and talking to communicating to those in front and behind is different, your at the airport and to start a conversation with a random person is rarely seen or done. The craving for human connection and interactions are fading out of us. There is no surprise that people are starting to feel and become socially isolated.

It is common to sit around a table and use your phone, to be texting others while your with your friends. It’s becoming a way of life and forming our identity. I have learnt through experience that social media can in some cases be an illusion; a comfortable, quick way for human interaction and connection. It gives you this half fulfilling or unrealistic feeling of human interaction. I enjoy using social media for news and to stay connected with friends far away. For me, I use it sparingly. I have found that over-using this only creates more isolation and as a result I become unhappy and feel like something is missing. I become dependent on my phone for social connection, creating a half fulfilled interaction with others. Instead of getting the rush and excitement from being with others, I would get a quick hit of dopamine from a notification or the anticipation of receiving one.

Social media is becoming an addiction. I have been in positions where I felt dependent on social media to help fulfill me, to give me enjoyment and fullfill a need of connection and feeling important. This unfortunately was not reality and although it was fullfulling a need, it wasn’t fulfilling the whole issue at hand, just temporarily patching to continue without having breakdowns, or save face. I look back, and the question I faced is would I rather be spending moments and creating memories with people, or be seeking other peoples approvel hoping to get more likes and comments on a post or connecting online. Social media also creates this feeling of more and compares us to others constantly chasing and focusing on what we don’t have. No likes seem to ever be enough. Someone will always have more likes and comments then me. It is a place brings a roller coaster of emotions having many ups and downs that seldom result with happy endings.

Many studies show that a life well lived is one that is based on the quality of our relationships with others. Relationships lead to happiness, allow us to live longer and live a much more fulfilling life. Some studies even show that relationships and mental states can have more effect on our health then exercise and nutrition combined. This is controversy but, its emphasizing the importance of being happy in life, which results from being around people. Having a purpose and meaning in life is crucial to keep you striving and pursuing more, but the journey along the way. It’s important to have people by your side to share the experience with you and encourage you along the way. And in reality what is the point of reaching the end and having no one to share it with.

My conclusion from life thus far is that technology is great, its helps in so many areas of my life. I enjoy my time alone to read and improve my skills. But when I don’t spend time with people for a few days I feel isolated and unhappy. That is when I need to spent time with my friends or meet new people. It helps me to feel connected again. Also when I feel happy, I tend to feel better, eat better and have more energy. Overall my health and quality of life improves.

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