In a recent post on her website titled, Connected, alone. Is technology making you lonely? Margie Warrell, an authority on courage in the workplace and risk taking explores the advantages-and also some of the drawbacks of the massive degree of connectivity that the online community affords. In a sense, the UDHR right to freedom of association is being exercised on an unprecedented scale. People today are more connected than ever online through social media and information sharing platforms. Margie is the first to acknowledge the power of the online community in “rallying people behind noble causes”, mentioning both the Arab Spring and KONY 2012. But despite these advantages, the fact remains that on a personal level, people today are often lonelier than ever.
Part of the problem Margie suggests, is that “When it comes to friends, quantity doesn’t equal quality.” The high volume of connectivity and access to diverse community cannot replace the flesh and blood, face-to face element of true personal interaction and friendship. She writes, “The more we rely on technology to communicate, the more mindful we must be to turn it off and engage authentically with the people around us. No gadgets blinking and beeping and urging us to pick them up, return that text or update our status.” These observations seem spot on to me. I think it’s important to keep in mind the fact that the online forum is an important tool for facilitating freedom of association, sharing important ideas and fostering conversation. But it seems equally important going forward, that we remember the value of true personal interaction, investing in our face-to-face friendships.