A long while ago, I wrote an article about the human mental/physical/cultural evolution. Nowadays things are happening so fast that some aspects of our being are evolving faster than we can adjust/notice. We were just getting by when all of a sudden a new age dawned on us and the very rules of existence were shaken and tables turned. The age of information economics, I like to call it, it’s all about distribution and adaptation (one day we’ll talk about it).
Some forty + years since the Internet and 25 years since the world wide web, these technologies have changed, how have we changed with them? Technology’s sole aim is to make things much easier, less complicated, more efficient (less prone to error) etc. Without a doubt, we have and still are succeeding at this but at what cost? We can talk to people on the other side of the globe, we can work without ever saying a single word in person, we can earn degrees from our bedrooms. All these activities have one thing in common, reduced/no human contact.
This may sound cliché but when I was growing up, tech was there but not that present in my community. We did not even own a TV. I spent half of my childhood relating to other children and people. I learnt about human relationships, team work, management before I could even spell them. Being in contact with others was fun.
Then shit happened, my mum bought a phone and I fell in love ever since. It was a Siemens C32, the first phone I had ever touched. Within a day, I was familiar with how it worked. Within a month, let’s just say I had opened it up a couple of times. My journey to being a geek had started and I would spend countless hours doing tech stuff. By the time I was playing GTA Vice City on my uncle’s P4 while trying to make my own radio station, I could go for weeks with no human contact except my family.
Finally, the rest of the world caught up to me (or maybe it is I who caught up to the world). After working for several years and experiencing management, I have learnt a few lessons. The majority of workplace disputes occur because people are scared of human contact. Human contact can bring conflict (which scares the shit out of people). It just isn’t cool to hang out with people no more.
A few weeks ago, one of my friends called me. I was lying on my bed looking at the phone lazily. The phone rang for a while until it timed out, I then took it and texted him, ‘What’s up? Can’t pick up, text me’. It is after this that I realized what I had done. I had been in my house the whole week and was not in a mood to see or talk to people. I just opted to text him. Texting as much as it enables conversation does not carry the authenticity of human contact. You get to exchange information without actually truly relating with each other. Yet it is one of the most popular communication systems ever. We are talking a lot without really communicating to each other.
Yesterday I was doing some mapping when I got to thinking. When I was a kid, we used to ask around for directions when we got to a new place. Nowadays, everyone just uses online maps which is more efficient and safe I agree. But what of the human contact, I know a guy who married the girl of his dreams, they met when she asked him for directions. Asking for directions was a tiresome, useless process but it helped us make new friends.
Day in day out, new inventions are coming out to ‘make our work easier’ but they are also eliminating the chances to be in contact with others. We are slowly disregarding our basic human need to be in relation with other humans. The bad thing is that we haven’t realized it yet.
How long till we don’t need to even look at each other in the eye? What then?
Also published on Medium.