Eight Disconnectivities induced by Social Networks and Smart Phones – Costs

Internet and social networks promised greater connectivity and greater access to information and greater assimilation of knowledge. The results are extremely discomforting as we are likely to be more disconnected than ever from our family, loved ones, and friends. We are disconnected in offices and public places. We are disconnected with our own self, and from nature while outdoors. We have become apathetic and disconnected with the plight and suffering of others. We are so busy taking pictures and saving our memories that their abundance has reduced their value, they have become disposable and we are likely to lose them in contrast to the memories or snaps of yester years that we cherished for a long time. Our ability to concentrate has dwindled. Our preoccupation with our selfishness in our selfies is degrading.


1. Alone Together in Social Settings

Disconnection in relationships: We don’t have time for each other. Attending to phone and messages takes precedence over conversation.
Alone Together in Relationships
Disconnection at family times. Time to share, time to discuss, time to talk to each other taken away by the phones. 
Alone-Together with Family

 Disconnectedness at public places: Campuses, parks, waiting rooms, bus stops were all places to acknowledge each other and to make friends and understand each other. All gone for transitory messages.

Alone Together on Campus


2. Alone Together in Official Meetings

Presenters are no longer listened with concentration. Everyone is too busy with one’s phone or lap top. Ability to shut off from the discussion has now become an art. 
Alone Together in Presentations

 Meeting rooms and meetings are held with most people busy on their phones. There is often no concentrated discussion on the agenda items. Each one busy with one’s own agenda.

Alone Together in Meetings


3. Disconnection with Nature

Camera occupies the center stage, nature takes a back seat. Ability to appreciate the beauty, assimilate its nuances, smell the sweet fragrances, hear the music of water, listen to the chirping of the insects, and tweets and flutter of the birds, rustling of the leaves, and swaying of the trees are all bypassed for a few quick snaps.
More interested in taking a picture than enjoying the scene

Selfie is more important than enjoying the scene and absorbing the nature. More absorbed in my, myself than in what is out there.

More interested in self than in nature


4. Disconnection with Self

You can’t progress unless you have the self consciousness, self awareness and self analysis. This requires being able to remain alone with oneself. We notice people taking out the phones the moment they are alone. How can one reach the zenith of Khudi, understand the secrets of life, discover the purpose of life and universe unless one has the capacity and time for introspection and reflection. 
Reflection and Introspection Required

We are so afraid to look at our inner self, that we would rather be engrossed in talking to others. Our inner self is going to reveal a monster that we are unable to understand and expunge it from our personality. Time with one-self is essential for intrapersonal skills of understanding your own emotions, and feelings. How to interpret your disappointments, your discouragements, your happiness, your elation, your anger, your irritation, your setbacks, your successes and connect them with your skills or weaknesses. How to develop future course of actions and strategies, if you do not have time for your own

Unable to face the real self, we hide in our smart phones. 

5. Disconnection with People in Distress

When we find people in distress, we are more interested in taking their pictures than in saving them. Our apathy and our disconnection is now at its lowest level. 
More interested in taking a snap than helping the victim

This happened in Lahore recently when a passerby was apprehended and lynched after a bomb blast. People were more busy in taking pictures than in analysing, calling for help or saving the suspect from being burned and beaten alive.

Stark Reminder in Lahore Lynching while onlookers busy in taking pictures


6. Transient Disposable Memories: Disconnection with Long Term Memories

We think that by taking these thousands of snaps we are saving our memories. But, alas with each change in the model of the cell phone, our bank of pictures is gone. Who has the time for sifting through thousands of snaps, most of them malformed, unclear, unfocused and worthy of being thrown away. How many of us do a sifting through them, keeping the ones to be cherished, others to be thrown away or kept aside. 
Value of a thing is inversely proportional to its abundance. Abundance of pictures has resulted in a lost of their value. Hence the disposable culture of throwing away your memories along with pictures because the memories were never sharp in the first place as time was spent more on taking pictures than on absorbing the experience. 
Think about the albums of yester years. They would have a few pictures but cherished and saved for a long time. Here is a picture that I cherish of my great grand father, with my grandfather and father and others. Taken in 1928-30, preserved till today. How many of our cell phone pictures will survive for 5 years let alone 90 odd years?

Properly taken photo designed for longer time and cherish.

7. Selfie Self-Projection

Selfie Self projection has become crass, selfishness for self aggrandizement representing extreme shallowness. The person taking the selfie is always in the center and more pronounced than others and at the expense of others.  This is the extreme form of self centeredness.  However, the group photos of yester years would balance and attempt to provide equal visibility to all for which group formation and proper seating would often require about half an hour for a single photo. Easy come, easy go. 
This became highlighted with this selfie of a media person with the great Abdul Sattar Edhi on his hospital bed. The photoshop doctored versions of her selfie with killers, terrorists, politicians, joker, and others became viral exemplifying the crass nature of selfie.
The great Edhi with Komal Rizvi’s Selfish Exploitation

Photoshop Doctored Versions like these becoming viral on social media


8. Disconnection of Span of Concentration

Last but not the least is the decrease and decline in the span of concentration by the social media. People press like before reading the posts. They skip the posts. Will not read all the comments before posting their comments. They are likely to comment without reading the post. 
Ability of people to read emails and lengthy documents have decreased. They are likely to skim and leave out essential bits. Their ability to watch a video of more than a couple of minutes is now questionable. 
The remarkable lack of concentration, and the tendency to move to other before absorbing the current is becoming the hall mark of this culture. 
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