Friendship Unplugged

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Whether you are a Digital Immigrant (born prior to 1980) or a Digital Native (born after 1980), for many people, technology has become a big part of daily living. The same technology that wakes us up in the morning connects us to friends and family by phone or text messages, alerts us to appointments, transmits e-mail, shares photos and videos captured spontaneously, and helps us find common ground with others across the globe whose political and moral views mirror our own. For some, it is difficult to imagine daily living without technology.

Human beings are social animals. Social networks appeal to so many, in part, because of the lure of being in touch with friends or family far away. Unfortunately, technology is increasingly beginning to impact social experiences when two people are in close physical proximity. Shy people on a first date may text each other rather than struggle through the awkward experience. Longtime couples may digress to sharing mutually interesting social network posts that replace authentic conversations about difficult topics.

Regardless of the rationale used to defend use of technology to communicate when two or more individuals are in the same location, the development of effective interpersonal social skills requires physical interaction with others, absent technology. Social cues are difficult to translate in communication shared electronically. Smiling “selfies” posted on social networks omit the holistic individual experience, which may be painfully lonely.

Today, I will look for opportunities to connect with those around me, in person, and set aside technology during those interactions.

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