The truth is….technology has changed interpersonal relationships for every individual with access to a cell phone or laptop.
As argued by Barry Wellman, a sociologist from Toronto, technology has increased depth, but primarily breadth of personal relationships. He points to cell phone and instant messaging as a source of increased frequency of contact between individuals. His hypothesis similarly indicates that online contact is not so different from direct personal interaction.
“What’s more, the on-line world is not truly distinct from the off-line one. We use the Internet and social media largely to stay in touch and make plans with people we already know from face-to-face relationships. Email and social media communications aren’t better or worse than in-person ones; they’re just different. And they complement each other.” (Masket)
This discussion of digital relationships seems to provide some sense of hope for a generation that is often charged with a lack of interpersonal contact. Instead, the inspirational messages of digital communication about connecting families that reside across the country, or reestablish long lost friendships via social media may ring true. In my mind, as part of this detached generation, I like to think that the texts that I send do aid in maintaining the relationships that I’ve formed over the course of my 20 years. However, I’d be lying if I said that I needed a cell phone to talk to everyone I want to. I’m not great at keeping up with long lost friends and no amount of access to digital communication will change that.
Personally, I can become inundated with trying to keep contact with my current friends when I see them everyday. If I go two days without have a serious conversation with one of them it feels like we haven’t talked in months. If I don’t talk to my parents for three days, I get texts like “Are you alive?” “We would love to know if you’re still in school.” There are times when increased contact with individuals is just annoying, and overdone. Sure it may be an improvement in personal relationships and call me a loner if need be, but digital contact can be too much to bear.