Family sitting next to me at Illium café in Troy, NY is so disconnected from one another. Not much talking. Father and two daughters have their own phones out. Mom doesn’t have one or chooses to leave it put away. She stares out the window, sad and alone in the company of her closest family. Dad looks up every so often to announce some obscure piece of info he found online. Twice he goes on about a large fish that was caught. No one replies. I am saddened by the use of technology for interaction in exchange for not interacting. This has never happened before and I doubt we have scratched the surface of the social impact of this new experience. Mom has her phone out now.While I value the convenience and wealth of information that this technology affords us, we have become a society that is both connected and disconnected. We need to take regular breaks from the technology that is isolating us. Apps and social media do not equate to friends and relationships. If you're constantly connected, everything you read or discover seems to be urgent and require your immediate attention. That is a lie.
Many productivity experts encourage busy executives and entrepreneurs to become less connected, to schedule specific times to check email and to make social media a quick treat instead of a 24/7 activity. Why not take a media fast once a week? Or even leave your phone at home. If you can't leave your phone behind, why not install an app that limits the amount of time you can spend on social media? (You can do the same on your computer.) The truth is, you're not really missing out if you don't read that next comment or article.
While I was initially excited about the possibilities of the internet, apps, and social media, I've come to see how it disconnects you from life, how you can put priority on "connecting" with people you don't really know over those who are actually in your life. It's impossible to keep up with everyone's Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, Instagram pics, Tumblr accounts, and various other social media, blogs, and vlogs. Our brains aren't wired to keep up with that much virtual friendship. For the sake of mental health - yours and others - put the phone down and actually talk to the person next to you.