Is our virtual social life a catastrophe or an evolution?

It is hard not to notice that our pocket-sized digital companions are dominating our lives. Our (felt) dependence on internet connected portable devices has lots of people worried that our social lives are falling apart and that we are evolving into zombies, unwilling – or even incapable – of socializing.

I don’t want to say that I am perfectly happy with the present situation: it can get annoying when friends spend more time posting pictures and comments of the night out than actually sitting down and having a chat with you, but at least they are socializing, be it digital.

Old habits, new (virtual) environments

In the pre-internet era women would go to the hair dresser or meet for a drink to catch up on the latest gossip. Now they use social media to get the latest trends or a load of likes when they make fun of their husbands.

Men would have taken a night off to play cards with the boys. Now they use online casinos, playing virtual poker and simultaneously checking on what the rest of the family is posting online.

And teenagers have always been living on a different planet, at least now they get a notification on their phones, reminding them that mom and dad still exist, and if you are lucky they will even award you with a comment on your social media page. In fact I dare to say that television had, and still has, a far more negative impact on our social behavior than our present obsession with the internet.

The couch potato: an endangered species

I can remember that not so long ago, for the majority of us, a typical weekday evening consisted of sitting on the couch with a few (unhealthy) snacks and watching TV. The evenings were planned with daily soaps, game shows, reality TV and movies. Every day, a different show. We didn’t learn much, we didn’t talk much and there wasn’t a lot of movement and fresh air involved. Now we have a gadget on our wrist that monitors our laziness, we have Google to answer our questions, we have the obligation to go out and take a cool selfie or a picture of a restaurant meal so we have something to post on our social media. We don’t want the rest of the world to think we are leading a boring life and just watching TV. We even go to a cafe and order a latte to see what our friends are up to, on Facebook.

The digital revolution might not be everybody’s piece of cake, it is changing our lives and can be intimidating at times but it is here to stay. Let mom spend time on social media, at least she is learning something new every day and confronting different ideas and points of view.

Let dad play a round of virtual poker on his pad, at least he is at home and only puffing on a virtual cigar, drinking a virtual cocktail and being monitored by his fitness app.

And the kids will always be doing things differently than their parents. This, my friends, is called progress.