There is something scary about a baby who knows how to navigate a computer at 8 months of age and prefers playing with it over her new doll. There’s something scarier when a 10-year-old doesn’t give you eye contact, when coming into her home with gifts for her birthday, because she’s staring at her mobile phone. As a grandmother to these aforementioned young people, my fear is that the human being that was once part of our culture and era is slowing disappearing and morphing into a new species of evolution that I call the “human doing.”
What’s to blame? A lot. Social networks are probably the best and worst invention of this new generation, not excluding the present one, which are all infected by the plague of the 21st century. The danger of these phenomena is that what we once knew as socialization is morphing into the world of cyberization; my own word that imbibes the world of today. It seems that we have lost the art of being present: We are no longer present in the interaction between others and ourselves.
Technology’s Effect on Human Beings
Sitting on a back porch, taking walks with great talks and enjoying a family dinner is no longer a significant part of our culture. It has been replaced with super-sized HD television screens, computers, iPads, iPhones and a dozen other creatures of technology that have interrupted and interfered with the human being in us, transforming us surreptitiously into human doings. According to a recent study from Pew Research, “67% of cell phone owners find themselves checking their phone for messages, alerts, or calls — even when they don’t notice their phone ringing or vibrating” and 29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as ‘something they can’t imagine living without.’”
Today, couples lie in bed holding their laptops or iPads rather than each other. Moms use computers to help their children with their homework, rather than working on problem solving by speaking to one another. Libraries are obsolete, as are books to hold and feel in your hands. Encyclopedias have been replaced by Google and Bing for instant gratification. It’s not that all technology is bad; it’s the abandonment of the human being-ness that it’s replacing in us as we slowly disappear into the “Brave New World.” Balance is key!
The Future of Human Doings
Human beings are wired for connection. When we disconnect, we go into crisis. What I see in my practice as a psychologist is that human interaction as it was once known will no longer be part of our civilization. The depth and wisdom of knowing each other will vanish with pushing fingers on a keyboard as opposed to looking into the eyes of each other and seeing the soul of a human being. Instead, conversation will be looking down onto a keyboard void of feelings, touch and love.
The scariest part of this, as a mother who’s daughter suffered and took her life due to mental illness, is that mental illness can no longer be ignored. There isn’t a person who doesn’t either have a family member or knows someone who suffers from mental illness. In my own practice, it has become clear to me that much of anxiety and depression is a result of loneliness and especially, human touch. It has become pervasive not only in our country, but worldwide. The loss of this magnificent part of our being a human being, is that we may never know the inner part of our beautiful essence and authenticity.
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.