My View, Mel Hewitt: Tech makes us less likely to see loved ones

social media mobile phone iphone
social media mobile phone iphone

Have you noticed how many outlets there are to share your feelings these days? Is it something you do on a daily basis, or wouldn’t dream of doing? With Facebook and mobile phones with messaging apps, we are privy to happenings and emotions that would most certainly never have touched our world 10 years ago.

What would once have been read about in a newspaper perhaps a day or two later, if at all, is now presented to us in our homes in the most direct and personal way possible.

Whilst this can be a force for good and empowerment – look at the online campaigns which have tackled issues as diverse as bullying and the final resting place of Richard III – it can also bring a sense of helplessness and negativity. If we can’t make a change to the things we care about, or are overwhelmed with the enormity of the task to help move things forward, the world of social media can be a dark place.

From animals in distress to the heartbreak of war, it’s all there with a click of a mouse.

Yes, I know that as people used to say about the television, you can always switch it off. A computer is no different in that respect. The nature of it though is distinctly different – there is, even at the most basic level a dialogue.

Who among us has not been tempted to put our opinions into a debate or discussion online?

The irony of all of this to me is that even with the constant evolution of technology that puts us in touch in a moment with the other side of the world, we are perhaps less likely to see our nearest and dearest in the next village. We all probably chat less face to face – even if we are in a pub over lunch, the mobile phones will inevitably be in hand or on the table. I have even caught myself texting my kids about lunch or dinner and they’re in the same house.

Even FaceTime – a lovely ‘second-best’ I always think, if you can’t be with someone, has a tinge of unfulfilled sadness about it for me. It’s great to have a visual conversation with someone, but it all feels a little bit formal and stilted.

Conversation, when real time is set aside to share and interact, is so precious.

We are now less likely to live in the same street as our family, or even town when we grow up. Progress yes, in terms of the diversity and opportunities life may now bring us, but with progress there can be an element of loss.

The world of social media and the ‘tinterweb’ can bring a sense of community and be a source of comfort.

Whether sharing our worries and joys, finding help, sharing memories or helping others, it can at its best be a rich amalgam of photo album and guidebook for life.