The hazards of hyperconnectivity

Staying in sync with what’s going on in the lives of those around you has become far too easy a task. By simply consulting your mobile device and connecting to the Internet, you immediately have at your fingertips access to a whole lot of information about the people in your social circles, perhaps more than your brain can actually absorb and retain at times.

But do you really know the people you are friends with on social media? To what extent do you have a real connection with them beyond the clever comments you leave all over their Facebook wall or Instagram images?

In the weekend that just was, my mother had a second episode of stroke. It happened fast, and was soon over, and she reacted fast enough to get herself medical attention such that there doesn’t seem to be any lasting damaging effects from the incident.

While I am relieved that all turned out well and that God was gracious, this unexpected event brought to the fore once more a very disturbing reality that most of us unfortunately now live in: The fact that, although we are often surrounded by people both in real life and virtually, hardly anyone (or sometimes, even no one at all) is aware of a difficult situation that has befallen us.

In this instance, no one outside of my immediate family knew about what happened to my Mum or that we spent a considerable part of our Saturday at a nearby hospital.

Not a single person from any of those I communicated with online over the past few days. Nor anyone whom I met on Sunday, which was yesterday (and this includes all my fellow church members too).

Of course, you could say that part of the onus rests on me to let others know whenever I am in need of help and all that. And that me sitting it out in a corner and lamenting that nobody cares is just a self indulgent thing, since everybody has their own set of things to deal with in life and it’s sometimes asking a lot that people concern themselves with me in particular.

But what does this say about the superficiality of relationships these days?

If you must know, I do not count you as a close friend if you don’t really understand or know about how I feel or the things I think about. The fact that you had a conversation with me or that we have some things in common isn’t enough for me to feel like we really know each other. However, in case you think I am such a high maintenance individual, I do, in the same vein, hold myself to similar standards when it comes to the way I would like to ideally relate to others.

Is this asking too much?

Maybe.

Yet, every so often , I rethink this entire social setup that we as a society have gotten ourselves into and I feel that we have sadly settled for far too low standards when it comes to who we regard as our friends. Perhaps we should be more specific and call these people — who have no clue about who we are on a personal level — for what they truly are: acquaintances.

And if you’re reading this and you do know me in person, I hope it somehow moves you to reconsider how we relate to each other. Or how you are perhaps overlooking what is actually happening in the lives of the people you are in touch with on a regular basis.

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