Technology: Social Inhibitor or Game Changer?

The silver bullet rattled. It shook. It zipped past platforms at unrelenting speed, the thunderous sound of the train-tracks doing little to awaken the zombie-like congregation eagerly awaiting inside for their stop.

Shoulder to shoulder they stood, swaying in unison like a forest of meat and bones. Their heads all bowed lowed as if lost in some deep, collective, urbanite prayer.

Ok... So enough with the dramatic setting. I was sitting by one of the car doors, waiting on my stop. Everyone was packed in like a can of sardines. And no one was paying any attention to one other.

No. It wasn't because they were praying--at least that's what it seemed like at first glance.

I don't know how long this phenomenon has been going on in our society. I've been oblivious to it until recently. And I'm sure that on more than one occasion I've been a part of it.

So why were their heads bowed?

Well... Let's see. For starters, one guy's craned neck was the victim of a very intense session of Candy Crush. Another future sufferer of chronic back problems sat beside me, tuned in to the latest Jenna Marbles vlog---isn't she just so charming and cute, though?

Now take those two examples and then magnify it to the other 60-or-so people who were just as distracted with their respective tech-toys.

The train made a quick stop at times square - 42nd street. A sweet older lady (maybe 60 years old) walked onto the car. She looked anxious and in a hurry--as most New Yorkers tend to be.

Her eyes scanned the train tentatively, searching for some friendly face. About a minute later she asked a guy next to her, "Young man, do you have the time?"

With his headphones plugged in, there wasn't a snowball's chance in hell that she was getting an answer.

The older lady then tried asking a young woman. Still no response. The surprising thing was that she didn't even have headphones on. She might've been caught up texting, I couldn't tell from my angle what exactly was catching her attention---yes, I realize how creepy this makes me sound.

And I'm ok with that. So moving on.

Anyway, I eventually stepped up to the plate and just told her the freaking time. It took me an entirety of 2 seconds to glance over at my watch and let the words spill.

She nodded pleasantly at me and thanked me. That was it. A simple interaction with a human being.

What's my point with all of this?


Look, this isn't some glorified narrative pushing an AARP agenda. But to me this a microcosmic scenario that made me curious.

Does the advancement of technology inhibit or evolve socialization? Is networking suffering more than it is improving on account of this disconnect?

Is it possible that technology is BOTH hurting and improving human socialization?

There's an argument for both sides, of course. It's no secret that nowadays most people have at least one social media account. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. All of these facilitate the exchange of information and conversation at a lightning-fast rate.

Smart-phones--and other gadgets--allow us access to these social media outlets. So we can bring all of our friends with us, keeping all 1,500 of our FB/Twitter friends/followers in our pocket (gotta catch 'em all?).

But then...

Others say that on account of our modern introspective culture, we are either giving or being oblivious to face-to-face interaction.

A casual glance at the right person. An exchange of amicable gesturing. Or something as simple as telling an old lady the time.

Who knows for sure? Yet one thing is certain.

The possibilities of social growth are limitless if we commit to being plugged in to both the electronic and real world... According to the dictates of my mind.


What do you ladies and gentlemen think? Social inhibitor or game changer?