Is Technology Ruining Interpersonal Relationships?

The other morning I stopped at a local bagel shop in Syracuse, NY for a cup of coffee. I noticed something that I fear is becoming more and more the norm. Allow me to paint this picture for you:

A family of four were out to breakfast. Mom and dad had their face buried in the morning paper (each with their own copy). The daughter, who was probably around 14-16 years old was glued to her cell phone barely looking up to eat and the son, probably about 10 years old, also glued to his Nintendo DS does not look up, not even when he asks for a napkin.

Do families not talk anymore? Or did these parents fail at engaging their children? However, we see this everywhere. For example; right now I am in Starbucks. 4 girls walked in together, talking and laughing. As soon as they sat down, all four were buried in their iPhones. I feel this is the culmination of decades of technological advances. Follow me on this I promise it will be fun

Laundry –

Once upon a time, we lived in villages (some of us still do). The women of these villages would all gather at the shores of the river to do laundry, interact and gossip. Eventually came indoor pluming and then the in home washer and dryer. No longer did women gather at the river shores. Therefore diminishing those relationships

Television –

Once upon. Time, we all went to the theater for entertainment. This was the social event of the week. Everyone in the town will be there we would laugh, talk, interact and just be social. This was also a time where children played outside, exploring and using there imagination to create worlds around a cardboard box. Yea eventually came radio. However people still gathered together to share its programs because not everyone had one. Eventually came the television. Yes at first, few people had one so everyone would gather at the house of the one person who had one, still being social and still having close personal relationships. Kids still went outside and explored and used their imagination. As television became more accessible, there were fewer social gatherings. Eventually kids came inside. No longer did they need their imaginations they could just watch a fantasy world be created for them. Now, people schedule life around tv as not to miss the latest episode of American Idol or Jersey Shore. Parents us the television as a way to keep children occupied. Add to the mix delivery food and we no longer need to leave the house for entertainment.

Even with all of this, there was still plenty of opportunities to meet people and be social. Commuters on buses and trains, at restaurants and bars. These were all places to connect and reconnect and build relationships with people. Slowly, technology made these things less social. In the 80′s we started to see portable cassette players, then portable cd players, now MP3 players and portable gaming devices. People commuting or sitting in a cafe are now plugged in and shut out to the old directly around them.

Today we have smartphones, laptops, iPads and iPods. In today’s technologically advanced world, we can truly be alone in a crowd. Where does this end? At what point will we become so interactive with our technology through things like text, email, and now social media, we no longer know how to communicate without technology, face to face?

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