Something that I've always feared about technology and social interaction, is what it brings us, versus what it takes away. With all of the cool features, gadgets and innovations that come with technology, "how" you ask "can technology take things away?". It's as simple as this -- technology dumbs down or replaces part of our collective humanity. It clouds our sense of urgency. It covers our fears. It takes away our sense of personal interaction. It takes away our responsibility.
Technology allows us to act, well... less human.
As technology makes machines more life-like, it is slowly turning us humans into robot-like entities, creating voids of emotion and empathy. The scary thing about this, is that we that are more and more subconsciously driven to allow this to happen.
When we think about what we want from technology, the first thoughts that come to my mind circle around our limitations and shortcomings as people. Technology is enabling us to avoid thinking about the consequences of our actions. Just like The Wizard of Oz, technology is the virtual cloak, that masks our collective man-behind-the-curtain. And as much as we know its not right, we utilize technology more and more each day to do our "dirty work".
Convenience through technology has become a double-edged sword.
One thing that I've always disliked about Internet chatting was how easy it was to disconnect from the other person. I recall the term *poof* which I learned was used to blatantly tell someone that you weren't interested in talking anymore, and digitally walk away from the conversation. As someone who isn't really chat-saavy, that really irritated the hell out of me -- how could someone just digitally thumb their nose at me and walk away? But as I got more exposure to the web and its "netiquette", I began to realize that the web subculture was evolving into a Matrix-like machine. Everyone online does what is "accepted as normal behavior" for the Internet. New rules emerge which deal with e-mail, chatting, IM'ing and PM'ing... The internet has become a digital wild wild west. I feel like over time, the net and its digital manners have matured to a degree, but I still get the sense that we as users still abuse the dark side of technology to our own selfish benefit.
Today I look around and observe how we as users interact with each other as humans, using technology. It makes me wonder whether or not we are losing touch with what it's like to treat a human being like a person, instead of like an e-mail address or a screen name. The convenience of technology, the same convenience that allows us to share photos and find friends, also enables our worst habits to come to fruition in ways that would normally not exist. Tech gives us an "easy out" when dealing with other human beings -- sometimes to the detriment of our own humanity.
So, have you hugged your laptop, or texted a friend, lately?