As the father of an (absolutely adorable) baby girl, I don't get to go to the theater much. Though I hope my little girl doesn't grow up too fast, I'm looking forward to the time when I can take her to the movie and not have to worry about whether she can sit through the entire thing. As such, I've never seen Pixar's latest movie, WALL-E, but today I read an interesting review that got me thinking about the way today's Web tools allow us to communicate without the closeness that personal contact affords.
"I wasn't trying to make the humans into fat, lazy consumers, but to make humanity appear to be completely consumed by everything that can distract you—to the point where they lost connection with each other, even though they're right next to each other." - Andrew Stanton, Director of WALL-E
The Internet allows us to reach out to a wider audience. However, more people, more companies, more products, more desires are competing for our attention and our time than ever before. It can be difficult to form and sustain meaningful relationships if we don't set eyes upon each other... if we don't talk to each other... if we don't, on occasion (even if you're not as touchy-feely as some) go see a movie together.
While in a way we are more connected than ever and some of the Web's tools, such as ooVoo and iChat, are meant to help provide more familiar and meaningful interactions than MySpace or Facebook currently afford, they can only take things so far.
I've witnessed warm conversations online, and some people are such excellent writers that they can suck you into their worlds and make you feel like you are there, feeling what they feel. But, as an old hand at online political debates, I've more often witnessed people talking toward each other online in ways they'd never even consider talking to each other in person. Online social media can sometimes be our decorum-dampener.
Let's not forget to peek up from our computers from time to time. It's easier to remind ourselves about how we ought to treat people if we are more convinced that they're human, because we've seen it with our own eyes. - Cam Beck