Do We Need To Disengage With The Digital Age?

 

Ever-present email and social media updates can become a pressure. The possible negativity of this has been emphasized by a recent study at the Future Work Centre based in London; which has found that stress levels can be significantly reduced by turning off such notifications. Keeping constantly ‘updated’ is a temptation – and what it is important to emphasize is that’s not all bad either. Statistics like these can quickly lead to technology being condemned and such like; but rather than kick out the electronic, what could be considered key is to pay more attention to the intimacy we have with these ‘contacts’. I’m taking more time to keep IN TOUCH this year rather than just ‘updated’, like an onlooker.

 

2016 could be considered a time when being ‘online’ is inevitable for many people – and although automation can have negative consequences – a constructive way forward may lie in appreciating the opportunity to enjoy genuine interaction, in whatever form. Talking to friends, meeting new people, sharing your own options; it matters that you can do this in a capacity you are comfortable with. To be EXPRESSIVE is what it is to be IN TOUCH!

 

Not automatic, but interactive

 

Yet involvement in this so-called ‘automatic culture’ can make it easy to see people’s lives through a series of feeds and updates. We end up not asking others about their experiences because there is information out there already, such as in the form of their ‘wall’ or ‘timeline’(on Facebook for instance). This is here an issue with the ‘automatic age’; it can lead us to overlook opportunities to be personal, and instead look to ‘pages’ online or in e-format instead of interacting over time. We typically find out about our friends in a few clicks rather than careful conversation. We may keep our emotions inside as we believe thy don’t co-ordinate well enough to a status or snapchat, page or post. A ping of a message or a quick email may be convenient – but keeping up genuine interaction deserves more than just ‘convenience’ – it is character-forming, after all.

 

Thus we don’t need to disengage with the automatic age, but friendships shouldn’t be turned into a technological quick fix either. Being ‘in touch’ is ultimately rewarding – taking the time to ask, to think, to consider another person. Doing this in a form you are comfortable with matters. A more inclusive year can be the case going forwards; 2016 could be seen as an ideal opportunity, not to disengage, but re-engage. As I mentioned, it’s a year of keeping in touch, not just updated:

 

In touch much?

 

1) Take the time to reply – social media and its ‘instant messaging’ service can seem to spread the idea that ‘friends’ are kept through quick, short messages. This is not necessarily the case! Friendships are maintained over time, through conversation and interaction. The focus doesn’t have to be on anything in particular, it is the shared time that is rewarding. I often send larger paragraphs over instant messaging, with the appreciation that my friend will reply when they have the time to do so. It is taking time to create conversation which means you can feel something meaningful as a result. So much more positive than the quick-fired ‘how are you?’ and the like. Taking time to reply is not a negative; what can be negative is indeed the ‘automatic’ and its tendency to turn conversations into snippets of time, which can be alienating.

 

 

2) Speak First – seen pictures of or heard about someone you know with a piece of important news? It might be positive or negative; but reacting in the real world involves so much more than ‘liking’ a post or pushing a button. Whether someone has lost or gained a job, is facing a tough time or wants to share their holiday memories – THINK, if you are willing to like an online post about it then it is an opportunity to react more too. If you want to, why not ask more about the experience, consider a phone call, share their insight? Getting IN TOUCH = interested conversation. After all, thinking about it made me make a bigger effort with people I knew but had not asked after for a while. The result was a much more rewarding friendship

 

3) An area to express – what matters is that opportunities to interact and share experience should not be demonised therefore, if the ‘automatic age’ – or at least the internet – offers you a space to be creative, then this is something to embrace .The internet may open up routes for many to enjoy their niche; especially when it comes to chatting to others about a certain hobby, sport or activity. What ultimately matters, is whether your interactions are online or offline, that you have the chance to feel IN TOUCH with those you are talking to; meaningful, interested interaction.

 

Let’s stay in touch for 2016.

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