Is Social Isolation A Failure Of Technology Companies?
With every new generation of technology comes a new generation of society as the use of advanced technology increases with each generation. The progressively increased use and dependence on technology can be viewed as harmful to social health and a contributor to building a world of social hermits. However, the reality is that advanced technology may actually offer new ways of improving social health.
The Effects of Advanced Technology on Socialization
The main features and defining characteristics of advanced technology used daily by almost any given person are the implementation of internet and cellular data and the expanse and growing complexity of social media interactions. Direct and private messaging on social media platforms allow for users to have instant communication with each other. The structure of social media allows for users to have a relatively infinite number of friends, and typically, analyzers categorize these types of friends into core network contacts and peripheral network contacts.
Core contacts receive most of the more intimate communication, specifically face-to-face contact surpasses the frequency of all other communication methods (Hampton). Additionally, with the ability to share instant information with contacts from various distances, distance is an irrelevant characteristic of core contacts unlike it used to be. Because core contacts are typically family members and close friends, one would expect a core network to be located very near an individual, but advanced technologies allow for a virtually infinite expansion of all networks because of the instant nature of the internet. Ultimately, although core contacts will always demonstrate a higher percentage of face-to-face communication, they can easily maintain both core and peripheral contacts via social media. This means that an online presence in the world of constantly improving technology can increase not only general network size but contacts who are on a more confident level.
Social Isolation of Neglected Groups
The power of new and advanced technologies to provide a more efficient and greater level of connection should logically lead to the conclusion that more advanced technologies result in decreased levels of social isolation. However, advanced technologies are currently most efficiently used by younger audiences, so older demographics do not receive the same benefits because they simply cannot use these technologies. Theoretically, socialization should be able to occur at the speed of light because that is the speed of the internet, and considering the endless capacity of contacts a user can have on social media, social isolation should be completely solved. Unfortunately, this instant communication is not currently the perfect solution for social isolation because of groups such as elders who are not accustomed to rapidly advancing technology. The next step of improvement for social isolation is tailoring our technologies for the groups of users who cannot efficiently and effectively use them.
Consideration of Every User Group
The future of eliminating social isolation depends on the user-friendliness of technologies because everyone must be able to take full advantage of the available and standard technologies that connect the whole world together. Social isolation can take a major toll on mental health, often leading to depression. While people should not want others to be depressed in general, people may forget that social isolation greatly affects senior citizens who are likely to already be lonely and in poorer health as they frequently end up in long-term care homes (Baecker). Because of this, it is important for tech companies and developers to consider specific user groups who may need the abilities of technology more than others.
Social media will continue to generate and encourage conversations as traditional media, such as newspapers and magazines, are phased out of popularity. As each generation becomes increasingly comfortable with the integration of advanced technology in everyday life, technology can provide a more efficient and fulfilling experience of socialization and life in general. Even in the future, however, it will remain important to consider all user groups of new technologies and ensure that everyone can take full advantage of rapid socialization to avoid the damages of social isolation.