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May 3, 2013

How modern technology isolates people

Problem: Lately, you’re feeling more distanced from others as you spend your day communicating with answering machines, voice mail and email. You are not alone in these feelings. Many people today often believe that modern communication technology keeps them disconnected emotionally and physically from their fellow human beings.

Now we often conduct much of our daily business by phone and computer rather than through personal contact. We order things we need from automated-response phone systems, and talk to no one as we do our banking at the ATM or online. Many of us spend time, money and energy on the Internet to chat with people on the other side of the globe, but make no effort to talk to the people across the street. It sometimes seems that technology has narrowed our humanity even as it has widened our world.

Why have we allowed this to happen? Probably because we do not know quite what to do about it. It would be difficult to avoid technology today; it’s like trying to hold back the ocean. For good or bad, and probably for both, technological advances continue and are here to stay, constantly affecting and changing the way we live, including how we relate to each other.

And we do relate to each other differently technologically than we do in person. Communication technology provides a buffer between us and the people with whom we are communicating. We are better able to keep our emotional distance from people when we don’t have to deal with them physically or react to them immediately. Yet, even as it protects us, modern technology isolates us. As a result, we lose the important benefits of physical, mental and emotional contact with our fellow humans.

So, what can you do to overcome today’s communication barriers?

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