Back in 2006 a study revealed that Americans were becoming more and more socially isolated, and that since 1985 had fewer people with whom they could speak about problems. The study went on to suggest that new technologies could promote this type of isolation.
For instance, if you can use a mobile phone to talk to someone, why bother going to their home and addressing them face to face? Or if we can catch up with friends over Facebook, then why get dressed and visit them for coffee when we want to talk?
Pew Research Center, though, found that we may not be as socially isolated as once thought. They conducted a study to determine whether we are really more isolated now than before and found that more than 55% of Internet users have discussions with others who are not related. In addition, in-person contact still remains the most dominant means of communicating with others.
I read this and thought back to the years when I was growing up. I lived in a very small town – we didn’t have cable at the time! Of course we also did not have the Internet, mobile phones, or any other type of mobile device in which we could contact our friends. If we wanted to see someone, we walked to their homes or caught a ride. If we wanted to talk to someone, we hid in the closet with an eight foot phone cable wrapped around our fingers.
Yet nowadays, getting together with friends is as easy as updating my status on Facebook or dialing my mobile phone!
For instance, in the past it would have taken quite a bit of time and planning to round up a group of mommy friends for a last minute trip to the zoo. Now in the morning I simply check my Facebook page because the mothers of my children’s friends are all online and will say, “Let’s get together at XYZ today!” Off we go, without having to call ten numbers first!
I would have been unable to make an impromptu phone call and invite friends to join us at XYZ, too, in the past, without a mobile phoine. Just recently I called friends to meet us at a restaurant because our plans had changed. We were already in the car, so I would not have been able to invite them had I not had a mobile phone. We got together without planning the meeting in advance, a nice playdate for all of us!
Of course, I can also see the detriment to all of this technology. Some people may tend to stay home more and only converse with people on the computer. Those who are unbearably shy may find it easier to talk to others through the keyboard than in person.
On the flip side, what were these people doing prior to technology? Has technology made them stay home more, or were they home before and just not having any outside contact becuase there was no way to contact people through mobile phones and computers?