Has it ever happened to you: trying to reach your friend’s attention while he was glued to his electronic device? Yes, it happens to me all the time – at the university, at home, on the streets or even in the bar. Technology is slowly, but firmly taking over our social lives. We became so addicted to our devices that we barely see that the real-time human interaction is fading away.
Abha Dawesar stated in a Ted Talk video, that even during the Sandy Hurricane, when lots of problems occurred, people would have been more interested in finding a plug point for their phones rather than in getting food and water. “Even in the rain, people stood between Madison and 5th Avenue under their umbrellas charging their cell phones from outlets on the street”.
People use their technology everywhere. They don’t only use their devices to stay connected in the spare time, but also during serious work meetings, classes or presentations. It became a disease to text everywhere you are, even when having a breakfast with your family or while you are out with your friends. A recent research showed that on average, teens send around 3,339 text messages a month. More than that, every single message is read.
Should this come as a cry for help?
Internet and technology is taking us to places where we don’t always want to be at. We live in a digital world, where everything is connected. We shop online, we socialize online, we do business online and we even make friends online. The amount of time spent on Internet has risen significantly in the past years, a fact that wasn’t overlooked by marketers. Kevin Kelly points out that there are around 100 billion clicks on Internet per day, while 2 million e-mails are being sent every single second.
These facts make us targets of advertising campaigns, which tend to distract us from what we initially intended to do. As an example, remember those similar products you are advised to purchase by any e-shop. Or, let’s say you are watching an interview and, all of a sudden, you are recommended to buy the book of the author, watch similar videos or get in touch with people who are watching the same video. Therefore, the time spent surfing on the web will not be 10 minutes, but definitely much more. Thus, we get absorbed by the multitude of choice online and we forget about how interesting the real world can be.
Human interaction lost its value due to the amount of time spent on Internet. Nowadays, most of the people would rather text than talk. We are too busy to build a natural human relationship. We sacrifice conversation and replace it with connection. Even e-stores are offering an alternative way of real time shopping. Asos, the online clothing retailer, has recently introduced the online personal shopping assistant. You can notice this tendency of communicating less with people and more with devices.
We feel more comfortable having a virtual discussion partner, since we can control what we say and how we do it. This is reflected in many interviews conducted by Sherry Turkle, in which people confessed that they would prefer having a more developed version of Siri (iPhone’s digital assistant) as their best friend, since it is “the one who listens when others don’t”.
Nowadays, digital marketing is very powerful. Marketers are so psychologically dominant, that they don’t only change our decisions, but they change also who we are. Being ourselves and making our own choices is not only important for the present generations, but also for the growing ones. People that would live all their time in a digital world would forget about reality, about time flow. It is because time doesn’t flow in the digital world the same as it does in real world. We can’t distinguish past from present, and present from future. The online world is not the present, is it always a few seconds ahead of us.
Although digital marketing brought us so many possibilities and advantages, it also took our precious time- the time to communicate in real world, to discover ourselves. We replace human interaction with up-to-date devices, afraid of being alone. All these apps, social media and advertising campaigns give us this illusion of not being alone. Online connection is not a solution; it is rather a symptom than a cure to our problems. Digital world should become a tool to develop our communication skills and our possibilities rather than a threat to our personality. I am afraid that one day, digital marketing and technology will surpass human interaction.