Connected, but alone?

In 2011 Sherry Turkle, who has done research on psychoanalysis and human-technology interaction published the book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.  In it she suggests that “we’re getting used to a new way of being alone together. We are designing technologies that will give us the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship.” How technologies and social media have changed the way we interact with friends? How do we tend to find friends? And are all of the 500 people we have on our Facebook friend list really our friends?

Yes, technology’s main purpose is to unite humans but turns out that in fact it makes us feel lonelier. Years ago people used to find friends in school, university, their workplace or simply on the street. Today, apps like JoinU, Skout and Meetup exist. These new technologies help people to connect with random people located nearby. Of course, the most common way of finding new companions is Facebook. Almost everyone has an account and it is extremely easy to approach someone. All you have to do is send a friend request or a message. Like every other communication, after a while people become close to each other even if they’ve never met in real life and consider each other friends. One by one people pile up hundreds of new contacts and in the end they don’t really make a difference between a real and an online friend. Interacting in social media can cause problems for adolescent who need to develop face-to-face relationships, for instance. We live in times when children aged 6 possess an iPhone, tablet and/or a computer. They find it hard to communicate with other kids in real life because they prefer to spend their time on the phone or chatting online. Another way in which technology puts obstacles in conversing with mates is when they have finally met and everybody is on their phones non-stop. Seems like teenagers are scared to talk face-to-face because there is no edit button; they cannot delete what they’ve said. While online they can present the self that they want to be- pretty, intelligent, generally better than what they really are. There is a huge amount of videos talking about the overuse of phones. I decided to showcase this one, it is called “Look up” and has over 50 million views on Youtube. In my opinion the video presents life very accurately and will make every person stop for a minute and think. My favorite part is when he says:

“When you’re too busy looking down, you don’t see the chances you miss. So don’t get into life where you follow the hype, give people your love, don’t give them your like. Look up from your phone, shut down those displays, live life the real way.”


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I’m so bored. *logs in to Facebook* = why do we really go online?

September 2014:

71% of online adults use Facebook

23% of online adults use Twitter

26% use Instagram

28% use Pinterest

28% use LinkedIn

These results are based on American adults who use the internet. 52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites, a significant increase from 2013, when it stood at 42% of internet users.

Of course, number one reason for going online is communicating with family and friends. Words can’t explain how easy it is nowadays to connect with people living thousand miles away just by clicking a button. It is also extremely useful for parents who have sent their children to study abroad. There was a recent article I read in a Bulgarian newspaper called “Skype moms, Viber dads”. It talks about the new tendency of “skype parents” whose children study and live far away from home. The topic if particularly close to me as I identify as one of these students. Truth is, that it almost feels like home when I speak with my family online. I can video call them and forget that I live in another country for an hour. After that, I log out of skype and log in to Facebook. Why? To chat with friends or make new ones. And it’s not only me. According to BBC 1 in 3 teenagers meet social media ‘friends’ in real life. They share that they feel happier online than in real life and their online friends know them better.

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Although, the purpose of social media is meeting new people and making friends, you can never be sure who you meet online and cannot verify the identity behind the account. As Dr Emma Short, a psychologist at the University of Bedfordshire comments “Although we create and maintain our friendships online in a very real way, it is not safe to assume that strangers we meet online are anything other than strangers.”

With the existence of sites like Youtube, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, it is not surprising that many people go online to showcase their creativity or talents. That can be anything from DIY (do it yourself), videos, photographs, paintings, etc. Some people do it because it’s fun, others to gather feedback, third with the secret desire of someone noticing them. Celebrities like Justin Beiber, Kate Upton, Kim Kardashian or Carly Rae Jepsen were discovered through Youtube and have successful careers now, so why wouldn’t I? they ask themselves. But is it necessary someone to recognize you? Today, being a youtuber is a career that mostly young people have. One of the most famous Youtube stars Piewdiepie is a 25 years old game vlogger and has over 35 million subscribers on his channel. It is suggested that he makes around 4 million $ a year, which is not bad for a home based job.


As it can be seen, the cover of the blog is a quote from the Charles Bukowski’s poem “Alone with everybody” that says: “nobody ever finds the one”. So I added: “but keeps looking… online”, because this is today’s reality. Here is an interesting statistics: “At this moment, 33% of couples have met online. By 2040 this number will rise to 70%.” Dating sites are designed to be easily accessible, even for people without a lot of computer skills. They look like a catalogue to me- thousands of profile pictures with descriptions praising their owner. Individuals can choose their dream partner’s age, height, location, race, basically everything. All someone has to do to is create a profile, upload a few photos and add information about himself. It is that easy.

Follow the blog for the next post, where dating sites will be discussed in more details.


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