Making Contact in the Digital Age
By Marina Rosenthal
At the height of newfound technologies, the world seems to become more innovative by the second. While this appears to be beneficial, it can certainly feel overwhelming at times.
Many students can agree that their face-to-face interactions have changed drastically with the increased use of their phones. A group of teenage friends sitting collectively on their phones used to be a Generation Z stereotype. Now it is a social norm to check our phones constantly, even when with other friends around us. Physical interactions are now awkward and often avoided. Phones are used as crutches that some even pretend to use in hopes of avoiding communication. It has ironically become more socially acceptable to hold these online relationships than to cope with the ups and downs of relationships in real life.
Many theorize that Generation Z is the loneliest generation. According to a health service study conducted by Cigna, loneliness in America is an epidemic. The study concluded that the younger generations felt more feelings associated with loneliness, like shyness or feeling that the people around them weren’t really around them. This loneliness seemed to lessen into the older generations, as Millennials (ages 23-37) were found to be less lonely than Gen Z, yet more than Baby Boomers (ages 52-71). These feelings can be associated with increased social media usage.
On social media, someone’s real life may not be presented accurately. Being consistently greeted on one’s news feed with what appear to be the perfect relationships, friendships, or appearances of others can trigger jealousy and self-consciousness, which can be even more isolating.
The Cigna study also found that finding a proper balance between work and social life helps combat these negative feelings. Some teens have even gone as far as to agree not to use cellphones when hanging out with friends.
While technology can be fun and entertaining, the detrimental effects on one’s mental health and ability to communicate are far too substantial. The digital world we live in is the new movement, but it is up to us to control it.