January 09, 2010

Anti-Socially Social

We have traded land lines for cell phones.  We would rather send text messages on those phones than talk on them. We can't remember how to address an envelope or how much a stamp costs because we send email every 1.5 seconds (I don't know - I made that up).  We send e-cards and evites for everything except weddings.  This short list of the technological advances negates physical or audible contact with another warm-blooded human.  Is the cost of our technological age so high that we have been left socially bankrupt?

People that were born before 1968 usually bring some perspective to our post-millennium dependence on technology and all of its devices.  During the holidays, my mother and my husband's grandmother were both rather appalled by their grandchildren's and great grandchildren's preoccupation with ipods, laptops, PSPs, Nintendo DSi, cell phones, etc., etc.  I, however, was born after 1968, and I have been a part of the rise of Microsoft and MacIntosh, as well as every other technological advancement since the personal computer.  As such, I raised an apathetic eyebrow to my mother's and grand mother's disapproval.  When they complained that my children's heads stayed so buried in "their gadgets" and "games" that they had become antisocial, dare I say, I defended my misanthropic children.  "This is what children their age do," I said.  Since my husband and I require that our children bury themselves in their studies during the school year, I felt defensive at my elders' disapprobation.  "These children work very hard," I thought.  "They made the honor roll two quarters in a row for crying out loud!  The least we can do is let them fry their brains on a game called 'Death Row' all winter break!"  And then I listened to what I was thinking...

Who was I kidding?  My children's behavior was antisocial (and I should probably rethink "Death Row").  But none of us-born-after-1968-people are innocent in all of this.  How many hours have I logged on Facebook this week?  I could get independently wealthy on the number of texts and emails I send in a day.  To add insult to injury, our 15 month old son watches "The Bee Movie" on his father's touch screen phone.  At the breakfast table, he watches Nick Jr. from my Macbook over his bowl of Cheerios.  He points the DVD remote at the DVD and actually presses "play".  Sad, I know.  It starts early.

Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and the like, were created under the guise of "social networking".  But how social are they really?  You have 551 Facebook friends, yet you go home to your cat to eat dinner alone in front of the latest episode of "Heroes".  You "tweet" about the ice cream sandwiches at Whole Foods that you just ate alone in your car on the way home.  
Haven't we all become Anti-Socially Social?