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New Years, New Technologies, New Interactions.

Thursday, January 02, 2014 Kenny Muzzey

The second hand sweeps across the face of your watch like a ravenous shark circling a baby seal.  Much like the seal, you realize you are trapped.  With each 360 degree swoop of the second hand, the minute hand makes a much smaller, less significant move.  The seconds start to fall away - faster and faster - ending before they ever really began.  You take a hurried glance at your watch again... Only a few more minutes until midnight.

You frantically search for you date before the countdown begins....  Suddenly lights fall to darkness and the countdown begins.  “Ten…Nine….Eight….” Your mind racing, unsure of where they went “….Seven….Six….”  You gaze around the room, but it is too dark to really see what is going on. “….Five….Four….Three….”  Frantically searching through your pockets you locate your phone, noticing a text message “….Two…One….” swiping your finger across the warm screen you read, “Ran into some old friends will catch up with you later.” And just like that the crowd uniformly screams “Happy New Year!” as beams of bright lights shoot across about and joyful banter fills the air.  

Maybe you have found yourself in a similar situation?  Perhaps an extreme case, but certainly some of you have been there.  It does not really matter who it was that left.  Be it a close friend, a family member, a date, whomever; the result is usually the same. We are left wondering what we did wrong, if anything.

With the birth of a new year and a ringing in you ears from last night's festivities, you review the night and struggle to find a reason for what happened.  You start to wonder about relationships, friendships, family... the complexity of human interaction.  Checking your phone, you realize it died sometime between last night and this morning.  

At risk of sounding cynical during a time that is most commonly filled with joyous celebrations, we see a constant barrage of new technology, social media and communications on a global scale.  Technology has revolutionized the way we keep in touch with one another.  We are figuratively closer than we have ever been before.  People are able to reach anyone, anywhere instantaneously.  What a wonderful concept... to be so close to someone.  

.... Yet so far away we really are.  Interpersonal communication is now faceless.  We see it everywhere.  Couples sitting in restaurants holding a fork in one hand and their phones in the other, completely unaware of what is going on right in front of them.  I know I have been guilty of this and in retrospect I always feel guilt.  With revolutions in social media, text messaging, e-mailing and other various forms of communication, we've lost ourselves in this constant need for attention and stimulation.  A hunger for digital interaction.  

For many of us, the thought of going a few hours without our cell phone is near maddening.  What would we do if faced with the prospect of being disconnected for 24 hours.. 48 hours.  It may even raise panic from friends and family if they went several days with no trace from us.  

Social media has created a faceless and cold world.  Despite the irony in the name, "Facebook," we've never been so far apart.  Within these technological safe holds, we can control a large amount of the variables....  What the world sees or doesn't see and how we want to be seen, but never who we really are.  

I am not here to condemn technology or social media.  After all, I sit here writing this story from my computer.  Following its completion, I will text my Editor who will then proofread (thank you much Sophia), and then it will post to the Halfstack Magazine Blog.  Simply put, I enjoy technology as much as the next guy.  I am here however, to bring light to how technology has shaped the dynamics of the way we interact.  In short, there are no written rules on social interaction and what we should each be doing.  

And as we prepare to ring in the new year, to set our resolutions and kick into high gear everything we want to achieve in the coming year; take time to reflect on the people that have come and gone in your lives.  What they mean and have meant, and remember to take the time to flourish those relationships.  There is a beautiful world outside of our cell phones...  outside of our computer screens.... 

Wishing you the best, happy and safe holiday.  Happy New Year.  

Halfstack Blogger & Photographer

Images provided and copyrighted by The Sydney Morning Herald & PostGradProblems.Com

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