I could see this collision coming from a mile away. As I was walking out of the gym, trapped between the door and a handful of people navigating in and out of the cold, a young woman plowed into me. Even for one moment she couldn’t be bothered to look up from her phone. She was oblivious to the world around her, preferring instead to delve deeper into her virtual world. The physical world was a mere nuisance and from her huff I detected that I was the obstacle.
I am no expert in technology, sociology, or psychology. I’m not well versed in statistics and tracking the latest trends. But I wonder if at the heart of our obsessions with our screens is a very basic need to belong. This need to belong and this need to know and be known is so central to our existence that it is like water. We find a path of least resistance to make these vital connections known. And while once it would have been the greatest obstacle to maintain long distance and even intercontinental friendships now they are merely a click away. In fact, our virtual worlds are easier to access than our physical world.
But is there a point in which we will become saturated with so much information about each other (down to a sepia tone photo of what you ate last night) that we forget how to make real life connections with each other? Is there a point when we are so bombarded by news and information that we simply can’t register or remember what it is that we have seen? Technology already has me worried that I can only remember 3 telephone numbers. And I’m a bit freaked out that my friends on facebook repeat share things all the time as they encounter them again. What is technology, the interwebs, and our need to know doing to us. Are we getting dumber? I leave you with this clip from the Daily Show. What is absurd about this clip is that it isn’t far from how most of us consume information. “When does this end, John. When we know everything.”