Sahar Moussa

Nowadays when I look at people’s faces, I see nothing but masks. I try to make eye contact, but their gaze is fixed on their tablets, phones or computers. I miss the days when technology or the Internet wasn’t dominant in our lives, as it is today. I miss the days when things were simpler; when human interaction was a must for the simplest of acts, such as asking directions to a new restaurant, visiting a new area or traveling to a new country, while nowadays there are apps to replace this human interaction.
Before the technological revolution, people used to actually communicate face-to-face, not through Facebook. They used to use their body language and feel the energy of the conversation through real gestures, facial expressions and voice tone; unfortunately nowadays we are communicating through emojis.

Pre-technology, people used to go out to heal in nature, breathe fresh air or read a book. Nowadays, even if they decide to go out to a park, they forget to enjoy the surroundings, because they are too busy looking at their mobile phones or clicking pictures. When people used to go out to restaurants, they used to speak with each other before the food arrived, and as soon as it was served, they would roll up their sleeves and dig in while it was hot and fresh, enjoying every bite. However, nowadays they take out their mobile phones and start clicking photos of the dinner table to post on social media.

When people used to sit in a gathering, they would start a real conversation, and chat and talk about everything and nothing. The focus was on the conversation and the energy of the room rose. The ideas exchanged left everyone satisfied, expanding their minds. Nowadays, gatherings are muted, dry and lifeless, thanks to the Internet. When we spend so much time on our phones, we lose the ability to focus on others – therefore, we are becoming more selfish and isolated.

Before the technological revolution, children used to play in the mud with a stick and a wheel, play hide and seek, hopscotch and jump rope. Nowadays, video games are dominating their brains and social lives. The obsession with games, social media, phones and text messages is depriving children today of basic communication skills necessary for relationships with others.

Children used to speak to each other, telling interesting stories and living real-life adventures. Sadly nowadays, they have chosen to live in their own world based on video games and social media, shutting out the outside world.
A lot of children nowadays are completely losing the sense of time in a virtual society that keeps them completely away from reality. They spend hours and hours on their tablets or phones, playing PlayStation, Xbox, Switch, etc. They have forgotten what it’s like to be children anymore and how to run freely in nature or in a park. They are losing their communication and social skills and their ability to understand real human interactions. Not to mention the huge negative affect on their self-esteem because of the high and fake expectations that society places on them.

They are losing their self-confidence if they don’t get enough likes – their self-worth is based on the number of followers, likes and comments. In Jan 2017, The New Statesman wrote an article on social media likes. Tellingly, one quote stands out: “Likes are always an indicator of social standing, at my age,” an anonymous 17-year-old survey respondent said. “As someone who gets anxious and occasionally struggles with self-esteem, the amount of likes on my posts can be both hugely uplifting or depressing.”
Social media is a drug and has become an addiction; therefore, social network platforms are taking advantage of this situation to control and manipulate us and our youth and make more money through advertisements. We don’t know anymore how to spend our time without using the Internet and social media; and what is making things worse is that it has the power to change how we are thinking through monitoring our data and behavior through the pictures we are posting, information we are giving freely, the posts we are writing and fake news. Yes, we are being constantly watched, manipulated and monitored.
To be fair, I cannot deny that technology on the other hand has also served humanity in many fields such as medicine, communication, transportation, education, economic development, etc. It helped humans to progress and advance as intelligent species; but in the process, we have lost our genuine interactions with each other. We have created on social media another persona that is different than the persona existing in our physical realm, hiding behind an alter ego that does not depict our real personalities. We have also created a digital presence in the virtual world that is either parallel to our personality in the real world or has become a different one.
Technology is almost winning against our children through video games and social media, and if our children are the future, does that mean that technology is the future and we are losing our humanity? Is technology and social media a curse or blessing? Is our virtual reality becoming more important than our physical presence?

By Sahar Moussa

sahar@kuwaittimes.net