Marshall Mcluhan coined the term “Global Village” back in 1964, well before the development of the Internet. He saw what was coming – a completely unified communications network, connected on an entirely unprecedented scale. People from entirely different countries, entirely different cultures, talking to one another as effortlessly as you’d talk to a friend you saw on the street. That’s not the only thing he knew was coming. Another of his best known sayings was “the medium is the message”- essentially, the medium through which information is delivered affects it just as much as the nature of that information. The same basic idea will look and feel different through the phone than it would over the radio or on television.
Unfortunately, as far as communication over the Internet is concerned, the medium leaves a lot to be desired.
As a result, even though we’re more connected now than we’ve ever been, even though we’re wired into a global communications network…many of us have never been more alone. There’s a certain sense of isolation that comes with heavy usage of the Internet, a sense that something is missing in the conversation. While the idea that 93% of communication is nonverbal is complete bunk, there’s still a fairly high percentage of body language, facial expression, and tone that are somehow…lost in translation.
Even talking to someone over VOIP or Skype doesn’t feel the same. We’re essentially sacrificing human contact for something less. A shadow. We are becoming isolated by our technology. It’s as though in this international, digital town our doors and windows are locked and shuttered, and the only conversations we have are through the walls with other, similarly entrapped individuals.
As a result even though we’ve more connections than would have ever been possible in ages past, we’ve never been more alone.
The solution is simple: keep track of how much time you spend online. Don’t let yourself get lost in a world of virtual noise, of stimulating sound and pictures of cats. Make time for friends in person, not through a computer screen. We are, at our core, social creatures. We need interaction, and the sort of interaction the ‘net’s giving us simply isn’t good enough.
Image Credits: [Flickr]
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