I know that devices have given us so many conveniences. In an emergency, when a lorry knocked down my eldest cousin, my mum had to rush to a neighbour’s house to use the telephone to call his mum, her elder sister. It was 1964. He had dashed across the road to greet my mum who was walking back home after Secondary school. My mums’s family wasn’t wealthy enough to own a telephone.
I know that smartphones and devices have allowed us to keep in touch during the pandemic and with loved ones overseas. Those are wonderful things. But somehow it has also led to alienation.
All these things that can leave you feeling very lonely:
1. No response to texts
2. Being left on read
3. Feeling too conscious to comment in a group text, but feeling bad for the lone person forwarding videos because obviously they need that human connection
4. Feeling left out and awkward as others in a group text have a conversation. If this was a room you’d be the bystander in a corner.
5. Without facial cues or body language it’s so easy to misinterpret or be misinterpreted.
6. Hesitating to text or FaceTime as you feel like you may be disturbing the other person. Even though you long to.
These devices are as addictive as crack cocaine. I know. It’s deeply ironic, as I have the privilege to type on one and communicate with you out there. It’s just become part of our lives. An extension of our bodies. I’m constantly checking if my phone is with me as my whole life in on it and I dread loosing it.
It’s made our attention spans so much shorter and it’s hard to concentrate for long periods. I watch tv shows or movies in ten minute spurts (I pause to glance at my phone) unless it’s truly captivating. It’s no wonder Tik Tok is so engaging because it’s short and there’s music. (The catchiest part of a song usually).
I dread the ring of the regular land line phone these days (due to repeatedly receiving traumatic news this way). It honestly makes my heart pound. But I am wistful, remembering a childhood and young adulthood filled with long meaningful conversations with loved ones. Back then a ringing phone only had pleasant associations.
Even better, when we actually went out together to a Fun Fair or movie or even just to McDonald’s and we actually talked and laughed for hours. Those sweet, sweet days.
I guess when we look back on life it’s always with rose tinted glasses. And as times change it’s hard to get back to slower pace of life where it was normal to talk for an hour on the phone. There’s so much to do now there’s never enough time and I’m not even talking about work.
The norm is Netflix bingeing the latest must see TV. It’s definitely entertaining, but it’s solo entertainment. I feel like we are moving further and further away from each other. Texts seem to be mostly informative and there is no room for emotion. They take on the tone of the workplace, especially in group texts, abrupt and businesslike. I actually feel like I’m the odd soppy one for conveying emotion in my texts. So to not feel self conscious I try to restrain my emotion.
More than two years of not having full family gatherings, or travel without the anxiety of testing and discomfort of masks really takes a toll. And it’s all come upon us very suddenly. Smart devices took over my life since 2015 and now since 2020, this pandemic has.
We filled our loneliness and soothed our anxieties with technology and are lonelier and more anxious than ever.