This is a sort of response to a previous post about the validity of online friendships. I do not necessarily disagree with the blogger; in fact, I think some of the post is on the mark. I am merely offering a different perspective. What hit home for me was how the post ended. Regarding online friendships, it said, “As a millennial, I have faith that our world will learn to cherish and accept it.”
I think that statement is absolutely correct; mainly because millennials were born and raised into this form of communication. A communication which has, in relative terms, expanded and permeated our lives at a much faster rate than ever before experienced. For older generations, with their analogous forms of communique already well established, this is unfamiliar (and sometimes scary) territory. There was a time, not long ago, when the playing field was relatively level to those humans—young and old—with access to technology. Virtually the only ones utilizing computers and satellites then were space programs, governments, and militaries.
Meanwhile, not so long ago
The rest lived their lives watching televisions with a handful of channels, talking on phones that never left the house, and putting hand-written letters in a mailbox to be hand-delivered. Nowadays, our TV’s are smarter than we, our phones hardly ever stay home alone, and our “mailboxes” have 2000+ unread “letters” (at least mine does). And whereas technological advances used to have a more gradual progression, all this has happened in a very short time period. The last 20 years of the Internet and digital age has brought exponential growth to technology, with advancements so rapid it can be hard to keep up at times. Your “new” phone is practically obsolete when you but it. And with today’s extended life spans, many are still alive to watch (and wonder about) it all.
Don’t get me wrong, I know technology is here to stay. I also appreciate the convenience it offers and don’t think we should go back to how it was. However, while many have adapted, I think a lot of the disparities of opinion regarding technology’s usefulness and validity are generational. For those who spent their first 50 years using actual “face” time to communicate, it just doesn’t carry the same weight doing so through Facebook.
Some have a hard time sustaining long-term online friendships, even with people they know. Eventually they feel a need to look them in the eyes or to share an embrace. Or, at the very least, a phone call; to hear their voice or share a laugh, or a cry. Moreover, another thing that gets lost in cyberspace is the use of sarcasm. Face to face, a certain look or voice inflection tells right away how something is meant. I remember reading an online comment where the person said “I am being sarcastic here.” If you have to spell it out, it’s already lost its punch.
The bottom line is, we are physical beings; at least for now. Maybe the day will come where future generations’ actions will evolve humanity into something else. I’m not saying this is good or bad, if it happens. For those experiencing it, the transition might seem completely natural. For now, though, it’s difficult for some to wrap their heads and hearts around some of the ongoing events, and the speed at which they’re happening.
And if the trend of declining face-to-face time (and its accompanying skills) continues, that could lead us down a slippery slope if this new ground is not treaded carefully. A 2012 study showed that the percentage of people spending less face-to-face time with family in their homes rose from 8% in 2000 to 34% in 2011. The same study revealed that 10% of those 25 or younger responded to social media messages during sex. I repeat: DURING SEX! To those in that last 10% bracket, we have nothing left to talk about.