A child of the 90’s I got my first cellphone in high-school, got a Facebook account just when I went to university and had dial up internet for the majority of my late teenage years. I won’t lie, even if that was the case we had chat rooms/MIRC/MSN and got the early glimpse of what is to interact behind a screen. Does ASL (age, sex, location) tell you anything? If not I’m getting too old. The point is, we couldn’t pick up the massive pc tower and take it with us nor keep these conversations on our mobile phone.
The faceless interaction would end when the screen was shut. Now we have access to everything, at any place and at any time. Answers to any questions and thousands of data and images on anything. Exotic places and small islands in the middle of nowhere are now shot in 1080p while people vlog their daily lives for everyone to see. And while there is a sense of knowing that place that face behind the screen, do we really know them? I saw a girl once run towards a famous you tube personality in the middle of the street, this girl had the sort of intimacy with a person they’ve only ever met behind the screen, with the kind I have with some of my closest friends. The “famous” guy was polite and very nice to her but at the end of the day, they are strangers! The small video you see, the insta-story, the 10 chats you get, are selective, what people want you to see, what people want you to read.
How many times has someone asked you online “how are you?” And your answer was “Okay”. How many of those times where you actually okay? In retrospect it’s not that people necessarily go out of their way to lie but that’s what they want you to see. You are not there physically to see them crying and essentially emotions are devoid in monosyllabic words and short sentences.
Your closest friends don’t really fit in that category though, you chat online just because it’s faster to exchange a few messages or you have too much work and don’t get the chance to call. Is chatting with your friends even daily, enough to withdraw from real interaction? When you meet for coffee or drinks with them do you actually listen, are you present? Most of the time I see groups of people taking a ton of photos, while carefully considering which hashtags to use rather than talk to one another.
In the age of swiping right to select your match, texting while driving and taking more photos of moments instead of living in them, what we can all do is be kind! Sounds weird I know but be kind, that one photo that someone uploads is not who they are entirely and before you jump to conclusions think. Next time, don’t text your friends, meet with them, and actually chat for hours about the future, the universe all the moments you shared in the past and the new ones you are going to create. But above all don’t hide behind your screen, be kind and be brave.