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Does Technology Make Us More Isolated or Bring Us Closer Together?

I think some people are always too quick to look at the negative aspects of technology use and fail to see the benefits it brings us in terms of increased volume and quality of social interaction. So here are a couple of examples of using simple technology in a really smart way to spread a little more joy than would otherwise be possible that have struck me over the past few weeks.

I was at a friends house on special family day and one of their kids was not there for the first time ever – they had secured a six month placement in Vienna working in a hotel. This was great but understandably a bit of a rite of passage for the parents who for the first time in their lives did not have the whole family around them. To phone the daughter would have been difficult as she only had a British mobile and this would have cost her money – more money than she could afford whilst on her placement. Then her brother suggested Skype – a concept quite alien to many in the room. You see the daughter had WiFi in the hotel she was working at and a laptop with an in built web cam, the brother had the same and within seconds, hey presto – it was the next best thing to actually having her there. Watching the whole family crowd round a 15” MacBook Pro screen and talk for a long time, laughing and joking, taking it in turns to join the conversation – was testament to what technology has done to ensure we can be close to the people important in our lives, in a more intimate and meaningful way than just the telephone.

I was at a wedding at the weekend and there was quite an air of excitement about the best mans speech from friends. Some people had high expectations and wanted to see the speech and some people wanted it to go badly for the comedy factor – but most of them were not invited to the ceremony during the day and as such would have to rely on rather dodgy witness accounts fueled by glasses of Chardonnay! The best man decided to film himself using a smart phone so that he could upload the speech to YouTube after the event – providing it had gone well – for those who couldn’t make the evening event to share in the stories and laughter. Filming at weddings is no new concept, I think my parents still have a VHS video of their ceremony, we just don’t have anything as archaic to play it on! But the ability to film it and put it out into the world immediately is quite a new thing in social events such as weddings and family gatherings, children’s football matches and graduations.

I was walking through London a couple of weeks ago with about 50 minutes before my train and had just enough time for a beer, but not really enough time to call anyone to meet me. I was just about to head to one bar when an alert popped up on my phone letting me know a good pal of mine had just checked in at the bar just five minutes away using foursquare – imagine my delight. Ten seconds previously I had assumed I was all alone and because of a geosocial media app I found a friend only moments away that I never would have known was there.

Our Square Daisy iPads now customised with our own skin cases.

True, sometimes technology can be isolating and intrusive, but imagine if it is used for the intention of bringing us closer together what we can achieve and the happiness it can bring to our lives. Just think, there would be far less happy husbands and wives without internet dating, I certainly know of one couple who would be less romantically wealthy right now.

Ps – the best man was me, the speech went well and I might be the first guy to deliver a best mans speech using an iPad.

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