I share. Therefore I am

It’s been a good six days. I’ll tell you why.

Last week I wrote about the future of work, and what opportunities lay ahead for my and your children. The post, titled ‘Dad, when I grow up ..’, was rather well received and it was great to read all the interesting comments, and have it shared through stranger’s networks. I wont deny it, the narcissist in me smiled.

I have found myself writing about the future a fair bit and the clear influence that technology will have on it. So with my newfound writing confidence, I sought out content for my next short article. Steve Wosniak has been in Australia this week, and had outlined the potential of a possible ‘Internet of Things’ bubble bursting. Dutch architect Rem Koolhass has, this week, spoken out against the way technology is infiltrating buildings. Both are a couple of great examples of potential topics to leverage off. My ‘creative’ juices were flowing. Could I better last week? More views, more likes, more shares. Just imagine.

However, on Friday, I was fortunate enough to have been introduced to Shimi Cohen’s ‘The Innovation of Loneliness’. This honestly stopped me in my tracks and made me think about a lot of the ways, via technology and social media, that we all are, supposedly, immensely connected and whether this is actually a good thing?

So rather than trying to better myself, I thought I would transcribe, share and highlight some of the key points from the video. Please take time to really digest them – I believe that although these points stare at us in the face everyday, we don’t pay attention:

/ We’re collecting friends like stamps, not distinguishing quantity versus quality, and converting the deep meaning and intimacy of friendship with exchanging photos and chat conversations. By doing so, we are sacrificing conversation for mere connection. And so a paradoxical situation is created, in which we claim to have many friends while actually being lonely.

/ So what is the problem in having a conversation? Well, it takes place in real time and you can’t control what you’re going to say. And that is the bottom line. Texting, email, posting, all of these things let us present the self as we want it to be. We get to edit and that means, we get to delete.

/ Instead of building true friendships, we’re obsessed with endless personal promotion, investing hours on then building our profile, pursuing the optimal order of words in our next message, choosing the pictures in which we look our best. All of which is meant to serve a desirable image of who we are. We are expecting more from technology and less from each other. The social networks aren’t just changing what we’re doing, but also who we are. And that’s because technology appeals to us most where we are most vulnerable. And we ARE vulnerable.

/ We are lonely, but we’re afraid of intimacy. While the social networks offers us three gratifying fantasies. One, that we can put our attention wherever we want it to be, two, that we will always be heard, and three, that we will never have to be alone. And that third idea, that we will never have to be alone, is central to changing our psyches. It’s shaping a new way of being. The best way to describe it is, “I share. Therefore I am”.

/ We use technology to define ourselves by sharing our thoughts and feelings, even as we’re having them. Furthermore we’re faking experiences so we will something to share. So we can feel alive. We slip into thinking that always being connected is going to make us feel less alone. But we are at risk because the opposite is true. If we are not able to be alone, we are only going to know, how to be lonely.

Wow. Rings home, doesn’t it? I hope so. I have often said in the past that ‘we are socially more connected, but emotionally less connected’.

Once you have finish reading this take time to watch the whole video – click here.

As I said, I have had a great week and it ended it with fun family dinner at the local pizza joint celebrating the fact that both my kids had received ‘Student of the week’ at their school. I’m a proud Dad! I didn’t post or share this news. I just took time to enjoy it.

All the above has got me thinking. Do I really need a wide-ranging social network, and if I do, what does it really mean to me? Do I need to keep sharing stuff? Can I keep helping people if I don’t? Is this post, in itself, hypocritical? All food for thought. What do you think?

[Before I end, I must give credit to my beautiful wife who apart from being an amazing mother and partner is also a dedicated children’s nurse, and quite frankly has been saying all the above for years and years – I probably should listen to her more].

Thanks for reading.

Kai

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