Technology and the human connection
In 2019, technology has us hyper-connected. But is technology dividing us, rather than bringing us together? Or has it simply changed how we connect? Is it now quality over quantity in our connections? James Nicolle digs deep through social media groups and productivity focused apps to find out. Need a date? Dinner? Accommodation? A new […]
In 2019, technology has us hyper-connected. But is technology dividing us, rather than bringing us together? Or has it simply changed how we connect? Is it now quality over quantity in our connections? James Nicolle digs deep through social media groups and productivity focused apps to find out.
Need a date? Dinner? Accommodation? A new TV show to binge-watch?
Open an app, make a few clicks, and you can get just about anything you want. You can even balance your books with Xero’s app while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil.
That phone in your pocket has above-average smarts and is roughly 100,000 times more powerful than the computer NASA used to send Apollo 11 to the moon.
And yet what we’re using our available technology for pales in comparison to space exploration!
While some of us are a slave to scrolling and wasting time, the smartphone is a great enabler for getting things done. We can communicate with people on the other side of the world, and if you’re out of town you can still say goodnight to the kids.
Want to catch the big game, but not at home on your TV? Stream it live, right to your device.
These things are not new, but our dependency on them is certainly increasing.
Humans are inherently social beings. For generations we’ve lived and shared collectively. We love connecting with others. We share sports teams, cultural values, hobbies and interests.
These things connect us, bring us together, enabling us to have more great shared experiences. We get a sense of belonging from these connections, and crave it because it’s part of our DNA.
Yet groups and group chat apps like Facebook are delighted. Keeping people online for as long as possible, hooking them into discussions and themes they are interested in for hours all means more eyes on ads – resulting in a higher price for advertisers and an ultimate increase in revenue for Facebook.
In fact, this ‘groups strategy’ is so important to Facebook, it appears they have built a whole new business around it. Facebook recently announced it was focusing on groups a whole lot more – offering group administrators better management tools, exciting format options, and what was once a huge conflict against the rules – mentoring and paid group membership options.
Group founders can now charge a fee for members as an income source – this could also be the next new income stream for influencers.
And with easy billing solutions from companies like Stripe and ChargeKeep, reoccurring low dollar payments means administrators and influencers don’t have to get into the cycle of invoicing every month. Smart, eh?
The need to share
However, this positive boost to our digital economy brings some negatives.
You’ll have heard of the phrase “never let the truth get in the way of a good story”, right?
Our innate need to be near other humans for connectivity, means we also love to share. Pre this new world we might have shown a cake we baked to a neighbour by inviting them over. Or shared our new hair colour at the school gate.
Now, we share on the Internet to thousands of strangers we’ve never met, and probably won’t ever know. However, what we are sharing is not our outfit as we are wearing it; we’re sharing our best lives. Perfectly curated, edited and polished for audiences so large we couldn’t possibly know them all.
We use filters to perfect our images. We post only our best, happy and smiling shots while on holiday so people think our time away is perfect and idyllic. We post our best lives, regardless of how good things actually are.
But is it real?
Social comparison, where we compare our messy lived experiences with other people’s carefully-curated online lives, can result in low self-esteem, happiness and well-being.
People worry what their friends and followers think about them, and they’re going to extreme lengths to impress.
So if big business wants to keep us online for advertising views, and group administrators are now being paid to create thought-provoking content to keep us there, and we feel we can only post perfectly polished and curated images of a life that probably doesn’t exist, what will this do to satisfy our need for in-person human connectivity?
This online life is a full-time commitment!
Is it quality over quantity? Will our meetings with friends and family become all the more special, as we spend less and less time together?
What does the future hold?
There are worries that automation and AI will ‘take over’ and soon we’ll be made redundant, replaced by a robot that can do our job at a fraction of the cost. Some jobs are considered to be first off the rank – truck drivers and taxi drivers, for example, being replaced by autonomous vehicles that don’t require a human behind the wheel. Fast food workers being replaced by a hamburger cooking robot is a real possibility.
On the flipside, the technology we use every day is getting better, faster, and smarter. It’s learning more about us every time we use it. Netflix and Spotify suggests what we should watch or listen to next, based on our consumption. E-commerce platforms advertise to us based on what we’ve talked about (that’s right – they are listening!). Social media platforms are designed to continue forever – you will never get to the end of a page or news feed because they want to keep you using their product, so they can learn more about what you like.
It’s great that technology lets us stay connected to the world whenever we want. Our productivity gains at work are at record levels, all thanks to our modern technology-filled environments. But there’s nothing quite like connecting and engaging with friends and family. We can learn about one another through conversation and sharing stories – helping us bond and connect on a deeper level, strengthening relationships, and yes, quality over quantity is likely to be our new normal.