50 years ago we were much more alone now

More or less regularly pontificates a video on how bad digital technology to human relationships appears. In general, become viral. Last week, one, entitled looks up, not only exceeded the 37 million views on YouTube – although with proportionately few 300,000 we like-, but that, at least, recognized, at the end of its 5 minutes, which see the mentioned short needed to be looking at the screen. But hey, all good, forgive it is.

Nor criticize it to its approach of having 422 friends and yet we feel lonely. We would say you better choose your friends, even on Facebook. Or check the theme of loneliness with its analyst; sounds like a symptom. We also leave aside the claim that these devices are slaves. We are also servants of knife and fork on a social meal, please note. And the scene of romantic date in which he looks at his phone and she feels ignored, well, here’s a tip: never be the plan B of anyone.

Another little thing: Gary Turk, the author of the video says that we live in a world of smart phones and dumb people. So is it good news that has had 37 million views on YouTube? It leaves you thinking.

As we said, we can overlook all these things. They are a classic. Now, we can not accept is that the story told in the video fall into that fallacy Stanislav Lem visit with his perfect mastery Empty book. The reasoning that if the boy had never looked up the smartphone, then he never would have met his future wife is completely invalid. For that matter, we did not just need to look up. It was also necessary to be born. To get to birth parents should know. For that to happen they had to be born (and meet and fall in love) their grandparents. It is the same all his ancestors up to the first hominid, which never would have existed if the dinosaurs had not been extinguished, leaving the terrestrial ecosystem to mammals. So the protagonist of the video also owes the love of his life to the fall of an asteroid 65 million years ago.

We will not dwell on this. A delicious Lem text called De Impossibilitate Vitae / De Impossibilitate Prognoscendi shows relentlessly, why this kind of arguments has only a veneer of truth. We recommend reading it, especially if the video’s emotional. The statistic is not about the uniqueness of individuals. That’s what it takes, perhaps, the destination.


There is another still more serious question in this and other videos. I.e., the past, stripped of technology, was a marvel. We lived many years in this world and gone, heart, would not the time nor for all the gold in the world.

Additionally, comparison is impossible. For two reasons. Because there are no points of contact and because, following this reasoning, the eighteenth century had to be better than the XX, since there was much less technology. It is a cute world without vaccines or refrigerators. Mostly we are concerned with the insistence that the good old pre-digitized as a time when there were more human contact times portrayed. While we know from experience and screens can not replace presence, and we have said with all the letters.

But painting golden decades ranging between, say, the mid-twentieth century and the emergence of personal computers in the late 70s, is a hoax. Not because you had to walk 20 miles, hopefully, to call for help, if you left the car on the road, nor because the phones did not allow texting. Not take a picture because it was a chemical experiment that took no less than a week to reveal the results. It’s easy to discredit those times based on the virtues of our digital devices, much as it is to discredit the current time based on dysfunctional individuals using technology to attack or discredit.

The problem is much more serious: 40 or 50 years ago people had no social life than they have now. Conversely. They had less.

abstract technology background with the planet on a white backdrop


Exceptions, the amount of social life of people has been more or less constant throughout its history. Is a function of available time and distances, and not based on personal choices. It is a genetic trait of the species. So there is still a prisoner for worse punishment isolation. A recent survey cited in his book Roxana Morduchowicz Boys and screenshots, shows that today’s teens, those who were depicted as engaged in their smartphones and alienated by jueguitos prefer above all out with her friends. Obvious. Besides teenagers are Homo sapiens.

What happens now, in fact, is almost the opposite of what is portrayed in the video. Digital, ubiquitous, economic and transnational telecommunications, have added a layer of socialization that did not exist before. He came not to replace, as they crush the nostalgic, face to face cup of coffee, but it provided a new dimension of encounter. It is the first time since we were little settlements where all exchanges face to face, we have the ability to connect to another at any time, anywhere you looked. We do it because we are socializing, because social instinct is one of the most powerful of our nature. Perhaps the first time we’re socializing as much as when there were these huge cities. Looking at the screen is often looking up when no one is around.

Something round as discriminatory in this video is that it ignores the fact that the new telecommunications technologies have enabled them to socialize a lot more people with limited physical abilities. We take a coffee is fine, as long as we can easily leave our house. That families, couples and friends they can pass on their phones locked without speaking may be cultural, but it is mostly an exaggeration. Just leave a little to see that many couples, groups of friends and families are still talking like the good old days. In the same vein is the issue of empty spaces children. Is it really so? Where? The video does not say, and that generalization seems more like something on the order of prejudice against technology.

Not long ago, compared to a scene where the dad was looking at his tablet, his mom and the two boys were playing with their smartphones, someone asked me the typical indignant comment about the lack of dialogue that cause new technologies. So we got up, walked a few steps, and quickly saw what everyone was doing with their screens. Dad was reading a note about a football game, mom was flipping through the movie listings, and the girl was with a little game and the smallest with a coloring app. So, back to the table, asked what would happen if Dad was watching the sports section of the newspaper; mum, the billboard at the Entertainment section, and the guys looking beautifully illustrated story books? We look like a scene from everyday life, and the lack of dialogue would be identical.

Of course, there are those who go beyond technology. They are no different from those with excess alcohol and they graduate as spoilers. But today’s social life when all that you had in your house was a television in black and white, bakelite telephone and answer any of your friends calls. Today, in this circumstance, you are going to Twitter or Facebook or something like that. 50 years ago you were not going to a coffee and you sat down to chat with strangers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.