As computers started to become more useful, and therefore more ubiquitous in society, we started slowly handing ourselves over to them.
It wasn’t obvious, at first. We used them as tools to help us think through complex problems. Then, with the advent of word processing tools, we started recording our thoughts in documents that could be saved, digitally, forever.
Things started moving pretty quickly after that. Computers could do more, and not just for businesses. People started buying personal computers to do graphics, taxes, and writing emails.
We really picked up speed when smartphones started emerging. As Nokias and Blackberrys started coming out, people embraced them. And when iPhones made their mark, it got out of hand.
Pretty soon, we were texting instead of talking on the phone. Now we’re using Snapchat to communicate with people literally sitting across the table. We instant message with people across the desk. We walk down the street looking at our phone. We don’t make eye contact with people, even as we order food from them or ask for their help.
Now, we make all of our arrangements on the phone. We take pictures of absolutely everything we ever do. We’re doing our best to capture and transfer everything about our lives onto shared digital cloud platforms.
Perhaps the final nail in our physical coffins? We’re all sitting at home using Zoom to communicate. Seeing people on our digital screens has replaced human interaction.
With everyone being locked in their homes, they’re using every digital tool at their disposal to stay in touch. But the thing is, we’re not staying in touch.
While we think the the world has gotten smaller, and we’re all more closely connected, the fact is we’ve just about lost our humanity.
Classroom were just as important for the physical interaction of seeing people’s reactions to things and discussing ideas and debating issues as they were for teacher-to-student learning. But now, that’s gone, and people think digital learning could be better.
Because people text instead of talk, we’ve lost the beauty and importance of tone and voice. Thanks to Snapchat, we don’t know how to argue, how to debate, how to confront issues, how to ask someone out, how to reject someone, and we don’t the difference between humor and anger. We don’t read facial expressions, and we don’t see gestures.
We don’t hug. We don’t laugh together. We don’t look in each others’s eyes. We don’t hold hands. We don’t know the importance of simply putting one’s hand on another’s hand or shoulder.
It used to be, when we lived through a significant event, like a newborn baby or losing a loved one, we would call as many people as we could. There was definitely a list of people who we called to tell.
Now, if you weren’t on Facebook that day, you missed it.
Who knows, maybe this pandemic will take us in the opposite direction. Maybe everyone’s home, longing to see friends and family. Maybe we’ll start giving hugs again.
I have to believe that it’s not too late. I hope that with families being closer together, that the phones are getting less attention, not more. Unfortunately, there are just so many stories about people binge-watching shows on their tablets, that it doesn’t look likely.
Fortunately, hope is decidedly a human trait.