I can’t remember not having a mobile phone. I can’t remember not having a computer. I can’t remember not having a DVD player.
At 18 this is probably pretty normal for those of us whose memories aren’t all that wonderful – I’m always forgetting what I’m doing – but it’s also very strange. I remember getting my first phone (Year 5, my dad’s old Nokia, me and my best friend were the only people who had mobiles and we hardly ever used them), I remember getting the first family computer (my Granddad gave it to us because he’s lovely and completely into tech stuff) and I still have some video tapes, but the only TV with a video player is in the loft (this TV also happens to be the first one I had in my room). As I’ve grown taller the tech and social media has grown in quantity and (arguably) quality along side me.
And that isn’t just strange, it’s downright scary.
This blog is normally about lighter, brighter subjects and thoughts so my apologies to my regulars who like my normal posts but this topic just tickled my fancy.
Back to the topic at hand.
The majority of the world’s population has some form of a computer, a laptop, a big tv, a mobile and/or a tablet. We are all connected, all of the time. But this isn’t always a good thing. The rise of the ‘selfie generation’ due to the vast array of media sharing sites has allowed for the ‘look at me look at me’, narcissistic society to flourish- you could even argue that all of us bloggers are just typing away, waiting for likes and comments, our own form of creative narcissism (although, I don’t believe that is true for a lot of bloggers, and not me, as we’re using our writing/photography talents and not just pulling a trout pout). On facebook and twitter we get updates of our friends days, even down to what they had for lunch in some cases. It’s a little odd, you wouldn’t call up your friend to tell them you just had a great soup, but posting it online is normal. The mundane overshare also spills over into photos – do you really need to share every holiday photo with your 600 facebook ‘friends’? A few carefully chosen photos that are nice to look at is fine in my view, even if it is just of you on the balcony of the hotel – it’s not like I can be against all media seeing as I am part of the social media generation! But I really don’t understand sharing all 251 photos you took online, just print them out and bring them out at parties like in the good old days of slides (I wasn’t alive back in the days of slides so they might not have actually been good). Additionally, Ask FM and many other sites have been criticized due to ‘trolling’ – we say things online, and even in text messages, that we would never say to someone’s face (of course, saying horrible things online and face-to-face just makes you honest about being mean, not nice). Why do people hide behind their computer? Sometimes it’s not even the anonymity offered, I’m guilty of typing an angry, ill thought out reply during a fight online, a fight that would never have happened in the same way in the real world. Is it because we don’t have to see someone’s reaction to our words? Maybe it’s because we can turn off our phone, shut down our laptop, grab our kindle and forget about it, because online is life-or-death whilst still not being real to most of us.
I’m not saying that it is all bad. For example, blogging has gifted me a space to share my thoughts with complete strangers when I’m unlikely to even smile at the stranger sitting next to me on the bus. Blogging has also allowed me to read about the experiences others have had – many of these are amazing and have inspired me to do so much more with my life. Facebook allows me to stay in touch with friends that are in other countries or ones I just don’t get time to see. My mobile phone allows me to text my parents when I’m not at home so they doesn’t worry about me or call my friends when I have lost sight of them in a busy place. But I just can’t help but feel that we have lost something by attaching ourselves to so much interaction online, and need to deal with some very serious issues like trolling, online gaming addictions, revenge porn and identity theft, before these become the thing that defines all current generations and is the legacy of my own. This technology and ability to communicate across countries without a pigeon is great, and can be one of the best things society has ever done, but it has turned ugly in the past, and could get even worse if we don’t control what we have created.
Just something to think about today as you look at the time on your mobile, check facebook and twitter on you computer, play games on your tablet, before ordering takeaway from your laptop whilst waiting for a new album to download, then reading your kindle before going to bed with your Ipod still in the docking station.