The 21st century is the era of information and telecommunication technologies. There is a large number of organizations specializing in a particular branch of computer technology. On the one hand, electronic pages are useful in making less harm to the environment. It is also easier and more convenient to store large amounts of data in electronic form. On the other hand, the humankind is becoming increasingly dependent on technology. Many even cannot imagine what they would do if, for example, they forgot the phone at home. In most cases, this equals to a tragedy. There are many people who are just killing time in social networks. A set of letters on the computer replaces live communication. Certainly, this is good for those who are far from each other. However, people abuse these benefits when living in the neighborhood, they communicate through the network and devices. People just stopped coming to visit each other. As a result, the development of modern technologies leads to people’s loneliness.
Impact of Technologies on Communication
It is not exaggeration to say that at the present time, information technologies play an important role in the life of each person. Nowadays it is difficult to imagine anyone not having a mobile phone or some other gadget. Even small children are often seen with such things. Information technologies have penetrated so deeply into human’s daily lives that sometimes a person refuses from the outside world, replacing it with a technical device. Traveling around the city, people go side by side in silence and look at their phones because these devices actually substitute them real communication.
Modern society has reached a post-industrial level that implies the advance in information technologies through the development of human intelligence. By virtue of more and more new technologies, which have been created, people’s lives become more comfortable and easy. After all, due to the phone, people can contact someone who is needed. In addition, there are devices that make human labor less required than before, which is known as mechanization. In places such as factories, a person commits constant repetitive acts. For this reason, people have devised special machines which are capable of the same performance as regular workers. As a result, the work is mechanized, and the human labor is reduced. No one will deny that with the introduction of information technology, human’s life has become more comfortable. Nevertheless, the key problem is that people sometimes do not know borders. A person is difficult to stop when he or she is absorbed by something and does what he or she likes and feels comfortable. Therefore, parents do not allow children to sit at the computer much, make them read books, and go to the exhibitions. All these are done for their well-being and social development. In brief, the information technologies sometimes push people to degradation and a reduced mental activity.
A concept of socialization covers a process of assimilation of behavior patterns, attitudes, social norms and values, knowledge, and skills and allows a person to function successfully in society. The prevalence of information technology in modern culture prevents the passage of this process. After all, instead of going to the show with friends, the average person opt for staying at home and playing computer games. He or she would prefer to watch a movie rather than read a book.
There is a qualitative change in attitudes and behavior and the transformation of an individual to the deep layers of the unconscious. Information environment with its complex fractal structure and the desire for self-organization is able to form a plurality of virtual worlds, forcing the user to combine the perceived reality of themselves with the physical world of the Earth in the digital worlds of IT-technologies. Some of the negative effects of this are already evident. For example, there are numerous mass killings provoked by computer games. The recent increase in the number of deaths among gamers is a result of emotional stress. It should be noted that the nature of the mental change is extremely destructive. There is almost complete degradation of the best human qualities such as the ability to love unconditionally, the desire for creativity, and the capability to develop spirituality. However, unlike similar processes that took place at the beginning and middle of the 20th century, consciousness of young people is affected by the virtual world, which is full of horror, violence, and pornography.
It is very important to understand the problem of loneliness. The individual of the 21st century feels increasingly disconnected from the society. In the area of global political and economic relations, a person and his or her inner world are losing their paramount importance in comparison with the interests of the state, region, organization or group.
Problem of Loneliness
Smartphones and the Internet externally bring people together, but alienate them mentally. These are the artificial means of communication, which allow people to hide from the live communication and themselves. In a text message, it is easier to conceal emotions, tell lies, and transform oneself. Often people text each other, being in the same room, because they find it difficult to express their emotions and tell truth to each other. Consequently, correspondence becomes a way to find a safe space for communication.
Stivers emphasizes that the growth of technology is related to the decline of morality (25). The development of technologies leads to the reduction in social relations between individuals, and as a consequence, to the emergence of fear of communication, which is the objective need of any person. The fright of interaction directly leads to loneliness. It is difficult to be friends with someone when it is impossible to talk about anything. The collapse of social ties results in the degradation of personality.
The atomization of society leads to spontaneous attempts to overcome it. It is possible to visit any social network and see the huge variety of groups. For example, there can be the club of fans of red sneakers. Unfortunately, such a union under secondary signs does not help to overcome the loneliness. Moreover, it leads to further alienation. The attempts of unification of people on the basis of insignificant similarities end with nothing, and people are pushed to abandon the idea of non-alienated life. “A preference for online interaction is also likely to have isolating effects offline, since it implies that online social interactions will be more valued and less time will be devoted to real-world interaction” (Kim, LaRose, and Peng 451). According to various researches, Lee Blair, Neff Claster, and Claster state that communication via modern technologies leads to the growth of the level of social anxiety and loneliness (274).
Internet communication and social networks cannot replace the direct interaction. Contacts with hundreds or even thousands of virtual friends can only strengthen the feelings of loneliness and isolation. Online communication affects social interaction, making people more self-centered (Bargh and McKenna 3). The greater mobility of an individual and technological boom has enhanced the tendency to experience a sense of loneliness. The concern is that modern technologies have ceased to be a means and begin to be a goal. The Internet not only enriches people’s experience but also becomes its embodiment. The digital life is a place where people can create the desired versions of themselves. In addition, the virtual world is an excellent method of evading meaningful goals. The relationships in the Internet are an illusion. Relations between people are a complex process, which requires much attention. In the network, people cannot hear the intonations of the interlocutor and see his or her eyes. Thus, people have incomplete information and cannot understand thoughts and sentiments. Social networking requires expression of opinions, but there is no possibility of self-reflection, which is an important part of any dialogue. Technologies deprive people of the need for daily personal contact. They make people constantly look for stimulation and communication, which do not actually replace interaction.
Analyzing the positive aspects of the global use of IT-technologies, it is evident that it has become much easier to find the information and develop intellectually. Along with positive aspects of technologies, there are many associated dangers. Atomization of the society is an objective process, which consists of the presentation and breakdown of traditional social relationships between people. The most negative feature (both in quantitative and qualitative senses) of the use of information technology is that it replaces real communication, which inevitably leads to people’s loneliness.
Despite people’s wishes, the era of information technology has come. Humanity will not be able to reject derivatives of the technological progress due to the dynamic growth and the desire for a long comfortable and safe life. Therefore, one must clearly understand that the development or destruction of human civilization with the help of information technology depends on a quantitative manifestation of positive or negative forms of influence of these technologies on the life of society.