The advancement of technological mobility and the degradation of human interaction

     Throughout the years we have seen a transformation in the way we work, socialize, and live our everyday lives. While our Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) improve, our daily lives become more and more mobilized by our rigorous use of ICTs. In the paper, “Expanding the ‘mobility’ Concept,” Kakihara and Sorensen take the notion of mobility, which has played a big part of the transformation within our social lives and mobilizing our lifestyles, and argue that “being mobile” is not how fast and how much human beings can travel, but the interactions carried out among each other” (Kakira and Sorensen, 33). Kakihara and Sorensen expand on spatial, temporal and contextual mobility- three distinct dimensions of human interaction, to better understand the impact that technologies have had in our everyday interactions.

First telegraph, 1794.

         We have seen  ICTs advance significantly throughout the years. One of the first communication inventions was the telegraph, a way of transmitting messages from distance through a wire. In 1790, we experienced the first working mechanical telegraph invented by the Chappe brothers (Goggin, pg. 19), four years later, in 1794, the first telegraph was sent (Goggin, Pg19). The telegraph can be compared to Kakihara and Sorensen’s concept of mobility of objects within the global satellite television networks and the internet. It has become easier and more accessible for human beings to receive news on a daily basis through our global satellite television which broadcasts visual images and sound enabling billions of people to receive news almost simultaneously. In addition, the telegraph was limited by long wait times.  The subsequent discovery of the internet has made it easier to send information, sound, and images around the world in an instant (Kakihara and Sorensen, 2001, 34). The continuous change within our human interaction, objects, symbols, and images is the result of spatial mobilization in human interaction.

           After the telegraph and other inventions in between, came the telephone in 1877 (Goggin, pg. 20). The invention of the telephone made it easier to receive verbal messages, but as human beings, we are eager to come up with new technology, and  in 1910  the first mobile telephone was used in a car (Farman, pg. 15). As new technology develops we have the ability to get things done faster and maintain constant communication with others. As Kakihara and Sorensen explain, “the increasing temporal mobilization of human interaction is simultaneously creating new opportunities and constraints for the ecology of social life”(Kakihara and Sorensen, 2001, 35). As the years past, more and more people had access to telephone subscriptions. By 1950, there were seventy five million subscribers(Goggin, pg. 21), impacting the temporal dimension of human interaction, as well as mobilizing it. By the 1990s teenagers were introduced to texting and it has since taken off and evolved into numerous forms (Baron 2008, hard af serstad 2005, Ling 2005b, 2007b). Due to the new technology introduced into our social lives, polychronicity – the ability to do multiple things at once – is perpetually increasing. Moreover, Kakihara and Sorensen explain that, “it is obvious that by using your email or other asynchronous ICT applications, people become able to deal with multiple tasks simultaneously. It is no longer necessary to share the same time period exclusively with a particular person or group” (Kakihara and Sorensen, 2001, 35). Therefore, the temporal mobilization of human interaction cannot be defined with a ‘clock time’ perspective, but rather mobilized into multiple temporal modes such as monochronicity and polychronicity.

The video above shows how much human interaction has gone cyber and the difference it has made in real world human interaction. In 2002, we start to see the difference in social interaction due to a new technology known as social media (Farman, pg. 19). Social media give us the ability to add the mobility in contextual concept of human interaction as seen through the eyes of Kakira and Sorensen. The internet and social media have connected people on the other side of the world and have created fewer contextual restraints interacting with one another. Kakira and Sorensen also explain that social media and computer mediated communication can help those who have weak social relationships better their face-to-face interactions.  In reality however, social media has created the exact opposite problem. In the video, it is evident how the use of social media has affected face-to-face interaction in a negative way. For example, the use of Facebook can help you keep in touch with people, employers, and keep up with entertainment and world news, but many people worry more about how many friends they have on Facebook, rather than building true, real life, relationships. The use of internet and social media are all advantageous if used the correct way. We now have access to a cell phone that lets us get in contact with others in an instant, use a camera, check your e-mail, and use the internet, among many others. Due to the accessibility of information and resources we have an extension of communication possibilities beyond time and space.

Throughout the years, we have seen many new technologies that have helped the spatial, temporal, and contextual mobility of human interaction.  We have gone from the telegraph and long waits for information, to being able to gain knowledge of something from the other side of the world almost simultaneously. As human beings, we always look for faster and better new technologies which leads us to being able to get things done faster, access information simultaneously, but most importantly, we will see the human interaction further mobilize and create an even greater rift in interpersonal communication.

Citation

Farman, J. (2012). Historicizing Mobile Media. The Mobile Media Reader, Volume 73, 9-22.

Kakihara, M. and Sorenson, C. (December, 2001). Expanding the    ‘Mobility’ Concept. Volume 22 (No.3), 34.

Goggin, G. (2006). Cell Phone Culture: Mobile Technology in Everyday Life. London: Routledge. Capter 2, 19-40.

Ling, R. and Donner, J. (2009). Mobile Communication. Malden, MA: Polity Press. Chapter 1, p. 1-29.

Nicklivingston.(2012, Jan 19). The Hijacking Of The Mind – A Facebook Documentary. Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4UIyTK6Sto

Sheila Terry. (2013). The First Telegraph Message, 1794[painting],        retrieved Feb. 8th 2014, from URL: (http://fineartamerica.com/featured/early-telegraph-message-1794-sheila-terry.html).

Zuckerberg, M. (2004, February 4). Connect with friends and the world around you on Facebook.. Facebook. Retrieved February 7, 2014, from http://www.facebook.com

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3 thoughts on “The advancement of technological mobility and the degradation of human interaction”

  1. This essay’s direction really captured my interests in its presentation of how technological advancements create a wave we inadvertently maneuver with. The histories of these inventions, and inventors, is really paramount in understanding how they’ve transformed our local communities to global ones. This is very evident in the research of Kakihara and Sorensens’, the idea of spatial, temporal, and contextual mobility has tremendously affected many aspects of our lives. With the addition of the internet as you mentioned, matters of mobility will again transform society, bringing me to question just how much faster will we receive information and what it will do to interpersonal communication.

  2. I definitely align well with your thinking. There is a rift. We are divided people. We are divided because we don’t know each other any more. We only know sullied facsimiles or constructs of who we are. I homed in on your piece, which is cited well and put together tightly, because just today I experienced exactly the disconnect your paper describes. My mother called me to tell me that my relatives were upset with comments I was leaving on Facebook. Rather than pick up the phone and call me to express their grief with commentary they saw, they instead complained to her. So my mother asked me if “I could kindly ‘unfriend’ people” who I grew up knowing the entirety of my life. I had to step outside of my body and wonder at how silly humanity had become in this microcosm. However, there was a truth that was more revealing: people with my own blood did not really know me. People I had grown up with my whole life just assumed what they saw on Facebook was real. They assumed that what I was saying were literally my thoughts… no matter how much of a hyperbole I produced. I started to realize that they had constructed a version of me so far removed from the prototype. Facebook is perpetuating a constant funhouse mirror version of ourselves. In many instances it’s probably even the illusion of what’s real because people construct what they want for their ‘friends.’ The question we should be asking isn’t ‘are we divided?’ We are. The real question involves asking what is the true impact of sitting alone in our own personal nickelodeons? What happens when we are comfortable and distracted?

  3. The validity of whether or not technology actually improves our face-to-face interaction is constantly being questioned. It seems to me as though those who frequently tend to use technology as a way to communicate are the ones to defend its performance as a mediator between people who wish to interact with one another. On the other hand, I have noticed that those who are not as technologically savvy tend to think that our generation’s technology devices are the demise of face-to-face interaction. I do agree with your point that interpersonal communication may be affected with the number of technical communication devices increasing. Overall, the use of these devices can be helpful if used in a mediated way. I do not think that there is a right or wrong way to use technology to communicate, however I agree that the practice can be overused.

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