Digital Intimacy

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Comparing the time before 20th and 21st century, one of the prime differences in communication we find is that in this century there is no excitement and curiosity in receiving the news of our near and dear ones. Prior to the digital age, the notion that communication fosters a healthy relationship most commonly referred to the traditional offline communication, whereby couples maintained intimacy primarily through face-to-face communication. Technology, no doubt, supports lives, jobs and education and its advantages are simplicity and convenience. The cell phones and laptops are convenience, because every time we want to connect to somebody, we can easily do it anytime. The difference between 20th and 21st century is that our lives now are more dynamic, and we depend a lot on technology.  I am mindful that technology itself is never the reason things change, and I strongly support this notion. Rather, it is how people choose to apply technology — and whether they make wise decisions and address real needs — that makes the difference in the long run. However, just like everything has its own merits and demerits, technology has its own boons and banes.

One of the biggest conveniences that we get from digital technology is the access to internet. Through internet, we have the ability to search and find different information that we need. Another advantage of technology is that through technology deaf and dumb people have connected with everybody. They have special mobile phones, iPads and computers which allow them to be a part of the society. They can have friendship with people from all over the world, and they don’t even feel isolated from the world. There are many “matrimonial sites”, which not only connect people, but in many cases bound two people and their families for life-time in the auspicious thread of marriage. For example in Ravinder Singh’s book, “I Too Had A Love Story”,  he shares his personal experience of how he met his fiancé through a matrimonial site, and fell in love with her. They did not even meet each other until a few days ago before their engagement.

The disadvantage of technology, especially of internet, is that one can create a virtual world of their own, with virtual friends from “Facebook”, “Twitter” and “Skype”. But the internet and cellphone obsession can lead us in a wrong way, because there is a possibility for us to think only about the life on internet world, forgetting the people around us, dismissing our family, career and our responsibilities. Moreover, using the new technologies, we have stopped talking face-to-face, and believe in written messages and texts. I think this fashion to write texts develops a distance between everybody and the new generation will have a very new way of communication, let alone the increasing cases of cyber crime, suicides, and unnecessary misunderstandings due to fake accounts on social networking sites. Taking a look at technology’s affect on romance, we see that technology is “completely degrading” the way we communicate romance. Given all the information that exists about each person online – from their Facebook profiles to Twitter updates, technology leapfrogs couples three months and has made the blind date practically obsolete. Online information complicates romance. It may be helpful to research potential dates and get the skinny on them before meeting them face to face, but it can also sets up expectations. And these expectations, if not fulfilled, lead to problems, crime and even suicide. Basically, the relationships in the present 21st century has become behind the screens of PCs and mobile phones. People are sometimes in relationship with people whom they have met over networking sites and might have talked over the phone, but have never met each other in real time.

Highlighting a research by Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Oxford University, he said that according to “Dunbar’s Number” human brains can really only handle 150 friendships. But on the contrary, we have hundreds of virtual friends on the social networking sites. Dunbar initially came up with this number in the 1990s, but recently repeated the research to consider social networking sites. You may have 1,000s of friends, but according to that research, you can only have meaningful friendships with a much smaller group. (Incidentally, Facebook says that the average user has 130 friends.) But as for how technology is changing work relationships, though people are working longer hours because of technology, workplace satisfaction surveys indicate that people are actually happier because they have more flexibility.

 It is obvious that technology will continue to develop, and we will be more and more dependent on them. We should support the newest gadgets and software, and use them very careful, because they sometimes can work against us. It is within our power to determine whether this generation is to experience the rewards of self-discovery, a higher quality of life, and a renewed sense of community that derive from an interactive sharing of information and knowledge. If we make that leap, and ensure that every citizen has access to the Internet and the chance to learn the skills to apply these new technologies for personal advancement as well as the common good, we can make a successful transition to the millennium. If we fail, we may leave a legacy smaller than our own inheritance.

References

  • Facebook ruined my marriage-digital intimacy interference on social networking sites (by Lynessa M. Williams)
  • Reaserch paper of dr. Robin Dunbar on “Dunbar’s Number” (Oxford University, 1994)

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