For the first time in history, the majority of global societies across the world are entering a moment in time where digital technology is shrinking opportunities for meaningful, high-quality social interactions between people.
So, what will this mean? Well, many opinion leaders are predicting how exactly this is all going to play out – but we believe that only time will really tell how the shift in our social interactions will change.
What we do know now is that advances in technologies that allow us to remain socially connected, work remotely, travel safely and navigate unfamiliar countries have coincided with an obsession to devices that – paradoxically – divides human attention between face-to-face social interactions and screen time.
However, we believe the introduction of new technology is not the problem – far from it. For generations children grew up with new inventions that caused waves in society, like radios and televisions. What is quite different this time, however, is the fact that these new devices seriously minimise opportunities for critical social interactions – especially in children and teenagers, who are still in their formative years.
It is our view that technological advances here should enhance, not replace our human interactions. If they don’t augment our communication endeavours both on and offline, then what’s really the point in it all?
For us, there is no reason why the two environments cannot overlap successfully and provide us with all the intricacies of innovation, and a healthy balance of screen / face to face interactions.
The former education minister of South Korea, Ju-Ho Lee, argues that the system which has helped propel South Korean students to the top of international testing charts combines such a duo. These have been described as ‘High Touch, High Tech’ classroom environments, where technology helps children remember and understand information – leaving the ability to transfer, analyze, evaluate, and create to the humans.
“Digital platforms are a part of our everyday but they must serve humans rather than compromise our natural social instincts,” claims an article titled ‘The New Humanism’.
However, despite the rise in screen time use, and all the studies claiming social interactions are at an all time low – we are not panicking just yet. We believe that humans will always need humans – as we’ve seen in our sales and marketing industry how people buy from other people in the offline realm.
It goes back to one of our previous blog posts, where we talk about ‘supplementation vs. sole strategy’ – where businesses should be using traditional forms of offline marketing in conjunction with new digital best-practice – not letting it be case of and/or.
For us, even if technology did get to the point where it was replacing human interaction on a large scale, we think a sort of human ‘doomsday’ device would be innately detonated. If digital automations took our jobs and became the norm through saturation, our human qualities and interactions could count for double in stark contrast.
“The greatest impact of technology on learning many paradoxically be to push us towards the human,” states Alex Beard in his book Natural Born Leaders.
We hope such a dystopian outlook never materialises, but this really does hinge on the mass introduction of systems that promote innovation alongside existing forms of meaningful communication between people – carried out face to face.
Let new technology enhance us, not replace us.
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