I just recently encountered the topic of being antisocial by choosing the virtual life of “social” networks and video games over real-life activities, which as one of my friends said, is a large issue for the young generation. I somewhat agree with her, however, I think before forming such a statement, we’d have to examine many attributes of our lifestyle.
First of all, we are living a life in a far more cosmopolitan way than our ancestors had. My grandfather lived on a ranch with seven of his siblings and his family. He might have known about 50 people at most as he had grown up and joined the military. It was his only chance to break out from that environment and try to become more than a farmer. If he didn’t join, he’d just live his life in an area of roughly 20 square kilometers. My girlfriend’s mother had similar early life in a small village, not even knowing about what happens on the other half of Earth.
As urbanization and population growth continued unstoppably, we suddenly became more crowded. And with the help of technology, we can even reach people our parents could never even see or talk with. We can phone our relatives oversees, instead of visiting them only once in a lifetime by boat. We have internet, skype, facebook, whose are surely not provide direct connection, but they provide the best connection invented so far. Simply to say we are in touch with more people than our parents used to.
The other aspect, of course, people who totally give up direct interaction and only virtually exist. We can encounter high shcool students on the metro, staring their phone and other gadgets. We, “conscious people” could laugh at them, but should we? These people wouldn’t even talk to other people of public transportation anyway. Their phones are their link to something more social than we have while laughing at them. They just copy a pattern that broke out dozens of years ago, due to our increased movement space.
I think being “antisocial” or using “social” networks over real life is a natural way to defend our private space, which we have less by every day. There are situations when we only want to take a rest, with not getting aware of anybody outside our skull. We want peace, like those men reading the news. At the same time, we are putting energy to one of our greatest desires, namely: being noticed. Sometimes we just need this one-way connectivity. Using our technology to make loneliness go away is not something we would feel shame for. It’s just the trend of the century, part of our evolution. We are not more antisocial than we were 100 years ago. We just use these half-social methods to get a taste of being connected.
FInally, if someone becomes antisocial using our technological inventions, and still manages to reproduce, this one doesn’t do anything wrong then. I believe this is also a case of foxes and rabbits. Our state of connectivity will just eventually reach its optimum.
My advice to people using indirect connection: ask yourself a question, is that really makes you happy? Is it the best thing to do with your life right now? If so, you are already achieved that many sociologists only dream of, and you should not feel shame for it. And if you think you can do something more useful, or joyful, let’s do that. You still can have friends who play sports instead of video games. You can have friends who don’t use technology to keep in touch. Or you can choose a lifestyle between those two. A little real, a little digital. Or you can go Amish. Choice is yours.
A final thought: if internet hadn’t existed, I wouldn’t have been capable to express these thoughts, only for those who I live close to.