Opinion: Has the increating prevalance of automation and social media led to a demise in human interaction?

 Has the increasing prevalence of automation and social media led to a demise in human interaction? 

 

Eve Roches talks us through her fears about the impact of technology on the development of the world.

Technology is an ever-increasing part of our daily lives. We wake up and check our phones for daily news and updates, and I even find myself looking up the weather on my phone instead of looking out the window. We text our friends instead of meeting up with them, because somehow it feels the same, even though it really doesn’t compare. Why are we choosing to communicate through a screen rather than face to face?  I feel that we are too enveloped in our phones and social media to notice life passing us by. Social media is a constant slideshow of memes, tweets and photos of girlos at their prinks. We must ask ourselves what the point is. 

To me, the fact that some people’s jobs consist purely of existing online is bizarre. 

Research has found that more and more children are vying for careers in YouTube rather than more traditional careers, such as nursing or teaching. In a way, it can be seen as a positive thing that we no longer rely on television networks: if you want an audience, you can set up a channel on YouTube for free.  However, Youtubers can work from home all day, maybe not partaking in human interaction. Does this damage our health? Watching bloggers can be a weird experience for me, because I watch them selling and promoting brands while wearing the fluffy pyjamas from their Penneys collaboration collections. We are becoming more conscious of sustainability and the impact our actions have on the planet, but these influencers and bloggers seem to be multiplying by the minute. 

Don’t get me wrong: I would be lost without technology and the internet.  It struck me recently that before the likes of Google Books and JSTOR, people had to sift meticulously through books to get a quote or source for an essay that would only take minutes to find online.  But what is the cost of this? The fact that you can get a whole essay done from the comfort of your own home or even watch a recorded lecture online can be seen as an advantage, but technically there is no need to speak to or interact with another human at any point during the day, and that worries me. Social interaction is necessary for us to function as human beings, and I ask myself if technology has a role to play in our attention-deficient and anxiety-ridden generation. 

We don’t even have to speak to shop workers anymore, as more and more retailers are making the switch to self-checkout systems. On the one hand, the introduction of self-checkout systems reduces jobs for people, but on the other hand, it also creates jobs for people in technology. However, many teenagers and young adults look to retail when they are starting to work and earn money – will it be harder for them to find jobs in the future? Imagining a world in 10 or 20 years’ time in which everything is done through an automated system and not face-to-face makes me incredibly sad. Human contact allows us to be more empathetic, build personal connections and grow in confidence. Having strong personal connections is essential to our physical and mental health. To quote Einstein – “I fear the day that technology will surpass human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” 

Photo courtesy of: https://unsplash.com/photos/chuzevDl4qM