Like AI, We Are Becoming Unsocial Robots
I have 4,500 friends on Facebook, yet I am lonely. I speak to all of them every day, yet no one of them really knows me. The fans on the streets of Tweet follow me, virtually, yet they don’t follow me in the same world. I have 2,000 friends, who like my friends on YouTube, but it’s only the machine which replaces the real me.
The problem I have sits in the spaces between. I’m just looking into their eyes or names on the screen. I take a step back and open my eyes, I look around, and then realise that this media we call social is everything, but social.
When we open our computers, it’s our doors we shut.
All this technology we have, it’s just an illusion of community or companionship, a sense of inclusion, yet when you step away from this device of delusion, you will be awake to a world of confusion.
A world where we are slaves to the technology we mastered, where our information gets sold by some rich greedy fellas.
A world of self-interest, self-image, and self-promotion, where we share all our best bits, but leave out the emotion.
We are most happy with an experience we share, but is it the same if no one is there? Be there for your friends, and they’ll be there too, but no one will be if a group message will do.
We edit and exaggerate. We crave adulation and pretend we don’t notice social isolation. As long as the likes are more than our friends.
We put our words into order until our lives are glistening, we don’t even know if anyone is listening.
Being alone isn’t the problem. Let me just emphasise that if you read a book, paint a picture or do some exercise, you are being productive, and present. You’re not reserved or a recluse. You’re just being attentive and putting your time to good use.
So, when you’re in public, and you start to feel alone, put your hands behind your head, and step away from the phone. You don’t need to stare at your menu or at your contact list just talk to one another, and learn to co-exist. I can’t stand to hear the silence of a busy commuter bus when no one wants to talk through the fear of looking insane.
We are becoming unsocial, it is no longer satisfying to engage with one another and look into someone’s eyes. We are strangers in the eyes of the ones we love.
We’re surrounded by children, who since they were born, watched us living like robots, and thinking it was the norm.
It’s not very likely you will make the world’s greatest dad if you can’t entertain a child without using an iPad. When I was a child, I would never be home, I’d be out with my friends. On our bikes, we would roam. Now the parks are so quiet, it gives me a chill to see no child outside and the swings hanging still. There’s no skipping or hopscotch, no church, and no steeple we’re a generation of smartphones, snaps and filters and dumb people.
So look up from your phone, shut down that display, take in your surroundings, and make the most of today.
Just one real connection is all it will take to show you the difference that being there can make.
Be there in the moment, when she gives you the look that you’ll remember forever: The time you first held her hands or the first time you disagreed. The time you sold your computer, so, you could buy a ring for the girl of your dream, who is now the real thing. The time you want to start a family and the moment when you first held your baby girl and fell in love again.
The time the baby kept you up at night, and all you wanted was rest, and the time you wiped away the tears, as your baby fled the nest. The time your little girl returned with a boy for you to hold and the day he called you granddad and made you feel really old.
But none of these times ever happened. You never had any of these experiences, because you were too busy looking down. You won’t see the chances you missed. So, look up from your phone, and shut down those displays, we have a finite existence, a set number of days. Why waste all our time getting caught in the net, as when the end comes, nothing’s worse than regret?
I am guilty too, of being part of this machine, this digital world, where we are heard but not seen. Where robots and AI define our intelligence and help us create a bond that is less emotional.
Where we type and don’t talk, where we read as we chat, where we spend hours together, without making eye contact. Don’t give in to a life where you follow the hype, give people your love, and don’t give them your like or a retweet without knowing the face behind the machine.
Disconnect from the need to be heard and defined, go out into the world, and leave distractions behind. Look up from your phone, and start living life again.