Glued to our screens?
The 21st Century Real Virtual World
Apple’s highly anticipated iPhone 5 was released on 21 September in the UK, and despite the absence of a midnight launch, it took no longer than the first weekend for their latest device to become the fastest selling iPhone yet. It is just one of the many strides we as mankind have taken in technology over the last decade or so, but as we become more and more immersed in a virtual world that our gizmos and gadgets hold us accountable for, are we forgetting what it is to be part of the real world?
Facebook and Twitter are two dominant forces that have graced the virtual world, and with 10.5 billion minutes spent on Facebook (not even including mobile users) and over 140 million tweets per day on average, one can argue that the impact these social networking sites have had on the virtual world now makes the internet just as big a part of our daily lives as the real world.
More thought-provoking is that the virtual world is continually expanding. Not only do we have services such as YouTube at the click of a button, but almost anything is possible on the web, from shopping online to playing interactive games to ordering pizza. With this comfort at our fingertips – either on a desktop, laptop, mobile ’phone or tablet – will we soon become completely dependent on our gadgets to get us by?
Evidently, the real world is irreplaceable, and by no means will it ever cease to exist. However, as our technological advancements swiftly continue, and as an increasing world population becomes absorbed into the various services the virtual can world offer, it may not be long before we find ourselves living in a ‘Real Virtual’ World.
How ‘Social’ is Social Media?
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter share certain key traits: users have profile pictures, can post status updates, and can essentially access the sites from anywhere, whether on a cell phone or iPad. Now, says International Business Times, too much time spent on these sites can cause teens to develop anti-social behaviour.
In the modern world, the process of finding out how a friend’s day went, summoning up the courage to ask that ‘special someone’ one a date, or even expressing feelings, has changed from being about the underrated skill of verbal communication, to a simple Facebook message.
There is little doubt that on a global level, these new forms of social networking have made significant positive effects in reforming our world, in terms of political engagement, entertainment and economic development. But on an interpersonal level, is our generation’s growing dependence on the Internet as a means of communication slowly destroying our ability to interact in person?
The introduction of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to the world has given us the ability and confidence to interact with people in a way that some us would not in reality. On one hand, this is allowing the more reserved and shy of us to, in effect, enter an online persona where we feel more confident to converse, to message or tweet about our lives with a reduced fear of how it could be received by another party. On the other hand, technology’s growth as a vital aspect of our day to day lives could suggest that, as time goes on, our need to communicate in person will eventually become a rarity. We may soon completely replace person to person conversations with virtual transmissions and digital messages.
Those who find more comfort and security behind usernames and passwords are slowly losing touch with what it actually means to be social. These new forms of ‘social’ networking are potentially creating a generation of antisocial individuals.