At a recent press conference, Boris Johnson declared London to be “the tech capital of the world”.
From our multi talented tech savvy bloggers to agency whizz kids creating tailored apps, almost in their sleep – London really is at the centre of tech talent and innovation.
In fact, London has become a veritable hub for the digital zeitgeisters of the world – and this has filtered down to everybody else.
Even those who do not class themselves as ‘up to speed’ with the latest in digital innovation have multiple social media accounts and think nothing of Instagramming and hashtagging their lives and loves from their smartphones or tablets. But with all this facebooking, tweeting and sharing, what is happening to those things which require real time interaction? In short, are we all spending far too much time online to the detriment of our ‘real’ lives?
Ok, this is neither new nor is it just London. In fact the film ‘Her’ (set in the USA) seems to tackle this question in both a thrilling and terrifying fashion. Internet addicts like me, will see the film as a reflection of how some of us are using technology and the internet to distract ourselves from ‘something’, an emptiness maybe? All, whilst trying to convince ourselves that we are living fulfilled existences. Spoiler alert: The lead protagonist ends up having sex with Siri!
(Check out a post on Buddhism, distraction and consumerism here: http://bit.ly/1bn5Gau)
But whilst we all constantly look at our phone screens, take pictures with our mobile cams and tweet our latest experiences, the underlying and unchanging question is, what are we all missing out on and what are we really trying to avoid?
My guess is that the answer has more to do with what we are being sold.
When the world around you tells you that everyone (except you) is an entrepreneur, a celebrity, a food critic, a blogger, a personality or at the very least trying to be – why would you want to be ‘just’ you. Social media provides a platform for us all to be and reach out more. No longer are you just baking a cake, you are baking a cake for Instagramm and for the comments you will ultimately receive. But whilst we are trying to be more, we can often be making less of our lives.
According to a new survey from condom brand Durex, British lovers are even allowing technology to get in the way of their sex lives. In a poll of 2000 men and women over 15 per cent of women and 17 per cent of men admitted to answering their phone or reading a text message during sex, a figure that rises in the capital to 20 per cent.
Again, according to Cornell University’s Steven Strogatz, social media sites can make it more difficult for us to distinguish between the meaningful relationships and the casual ones. By focusing so much of our time on these less meaningful relationships, our most important connections are weakened. Issues around privacy, cyber-bullying, decreased productivity are also important. According to studies, British companies lose 2.2 billion a year to social media.
With assistive technology making it easier for all of us – regardless of your ability or disability – to access social media platforms, it seems that none of us are exempt from the joys of sharing our thoughts with our online friends and followers – whilst listening in to theirs. This is interaction of a sort, but it is not a replacement for the interactions we could be having with those closest to us.
The problem is that being satisfied with living in the present moment is not something we are encouraged to do. In fact, we are constantly pushed by the media and society to strive for the next goal, climb the ladder, connect with more people. Maybe it is time we put more value on the experiences we are having right now, with the people in front of us, and stopped to smell the roses (without Instagramming them).
What do you think? Is the internet eating us?