On my smartphone, I have seven apps. Whatsapp to keep me in touch with friends I make through volunteering. Nike Training Club so I can have a personalized workout from home. Instagram for music blogging. Soundcloud and Jango Radio for my own musical interests. Wattpad for my insatiable desire to read more.

This is nothing compared to the pages upon pages of apps my friends have on their smartphones.

The advent of apps on smartphones simultaneously keeps us in touch with society while also limiting our need to physically interact with it. I do not have to make coffee dates to meet with friends when I can reach them through an app. I do not have to make the trip to gym when I have a personal trainer in an app. I do not have to go to the library to find a nice book to read when I can maybe find something better in an app.

Most of these apps come with push notifications to alert me to updates or activities in linked accounts. In the space of five minutes I can get twenty notifications alerting me to activity and conversations that, by all accounts, I should join in on if only to not fall behind on the changing tides of information.

Because conversations are over and news ages in seconds in the digital world. Does this mean that I have to be constantly kept up-to-date? Or does this mean that the conversation is meaningless, the news not impactful and so I do not need to play catch up? I can turn off notifications with a touch of a button. But the question of whether the updates are important or not is impeding that decision. The short amount of time required to respond to a notification, shortens everything. We do not think too long on what we have read. We do not spend too much time talking about the social or political fallout of news articles. The speed of responses through apps makes it easy for us to interact with society and superficially contribute to it. Real change comes through longer conversations and deeper thought than can be found on a Twitter feed. The value of our societal interactions is lessened when we do it digitally.

Apps keep us in touch with society. But it is really just a touch. It is not meaningful, consequential contact or influence that we create with an app.

A new branch of activists came out of apps, commonly referred to as social media activists. They post links to news on their feed and raise awareness using their profile pages. Simply saying that they have posted an article on their social media feed gives the impression that they have interacted with society. And they have. However, how meaningful was that interaction? The one hundred forty characters read on Twitter are forgotten once the app is closed. There is no guarantee of making a lasting impression for a cause when all you can do is post a live link.

Apps create ease of access to everything; personal lives, educational mediums and entertainment avenues. Apps are being created to replace credit cards, to replace car keys, to replace house keys. Google Now and Apple Siri are like personal assistants to our days. We have replaced human friends with artificially intelligent ones who do not have the ability to distinguish you from a thief so long as the proper password is provided. They collect so much information about us. Where does all this information go? Having a smartphone stolen means more than simply losing a phone and a phonebook. Now it means someone else has access to your wallet, car, home, and the private details of the friends you follow through your open Facebook account.

We need to make more lasting and meaningful impressions.

Not to sound like a broken record but we need more face to face interactions. There is more comfort in talking digitally because there is the protection of delayed reaction times, anonymity, and the lack of accurate tone. There is a confidence we have when we speak through text that we do not have when we speak orally. We need to regain that confidence in who we are and the value of what we are saying. Our words are just as important whether we say them or message them. But there is more value in the spoken word because eye contact is made. Lasting impressions are created. The sincerity in the tone of our spoken words gets our point across much more intensively.

Our social interactions have become superficial and fleeting. We need to use the better avenue for people to digest the food we provide for thought.

Photo Credits: Magnus Hagdorn

About The Author

Uni Grad

Related Posts