“There’s something powerful and exciting about the society-wide experiment the digital age has thrust upon us.” ~James Estrin, National Geographic
I shared this quote this a few years ago in a post about how the digital age is altering education’s landscape. Today, it returns to mind as I reflect on how this “society-wide experiment” is impacting relationships. I have spent a good deal of time writing about how grateful I am to have the opportunity to make global connections that would never have been a possibility without technological advances.
But there are moments we ought to pause and consider some of the less positive detours this experiment can sometimes lead. Here’s a powerful short video by Matthew Frost that allows such reflection (please note that there is some language).
My question is this: whose humanity was diminished more in this video — Kirsten Dunst’s, or that of the 2 young women?
The moment we start to see anyone as less than a human being and more like an object to be used, or even as a product to be pushed through, we devalue our own humanity.
Of course, this base mentality has been around for much longer than the digital age, but devices, social media, and online anonymity provide a much more varied, efficient, and enticing ways to encourage it.
If there’s ever a time we’re willing to overlook another person’s need for authentic connection, we put our own ability to connect at risk. As the line between our digital and physical worlds become more and more blurred, we can’t hope that such a mindset will stay safely boxed in the moments when we think we have enough digital anonymity.
On the flipside, when we make authenticity and genuine connection a priority in all our interactions, we show that the impact of this digital experiment is to amplify positive connection in both the physical and digital sphere.
It also makes it easier to answer questions that involve the quality of our relationships, whether they are with our family members, our friends, or our students. Regardless of the possible efficiency or increased productivity or raised test scores, if the cost is quality relationships with one another, it is. not. worth it.
It would serve us all to remember that this society-wide digital experiment is, in fact, an experiment, and as such, we should occasionally stop to reflect on how it is shaping our lives.
featured image: DeathToTheStockPhoto