It is often said that new technology aligns with shifts in behaviour, or, that we create new technologies to suit shifting behaviours – the two are aligned, but one does not necessarily cause the other. We adapt to new technologies, then we adapt them to our own lifestyles.
However with The Innovation of Loneliness, Shimi Cohen suggests that digital media is replacing positive face-to-face conversation with a more isolated way of communicating.
But where does this leave the traveller, or the exchange student, myself, who has to rely solely on exchange with others back home over social media? For me, it is useful, simply because it is not in real time. Replies don’t need to be instant and conversations can continue over a number of days.
It’s true; things can be misread, subtleties lost, and meaning construed, but the new medium paves the way for a new kind of conversation, and a new kind of interaction.
With the phrase “I Share, therefore I Am”, Cohen makes an interesting point about the way in which we justify our existence, and our online presence. It is through what we choose to share that we establish our identity. Everyone knows it, it is unescapable; your online presence matters. It’s the easiest way for someone to get an idea of who you are – employers, friends, potential partners. So it does matter, that’s for sure. My American friends, wanting to be teachers, cannot even have photos of themselves with alcohol on Facebook. So they share very little. But then others choose to share more then is necessary, more then anyone really ever wants to know. Check out this article on the fem-douches of Instagram.
So where does the happy medium lie? Well that’s up to the individual I guess… How much do they feel the need to show other people that they are alive, and that the life they live is filled with social activities, overseas travels, and cute babies?