The Hyper-Connected World

The theme chosen for this project is ‘The Hyper-Connected World’. This theme was chosen as I am fascinated by the impact that technology is having on politics, the economy and society. Technology’s influence on society was slightly touched upon in the Psychoanalysis Contextual Studies lecture, discussing how social media changes your views on yourself and your identity. However, as I intend to discuss technological links and the impact it has on society, I feel it fits more under ‘The Hyper-Connected World’, rather than ‘Psychoanalysis’ although the two are closely related.

I have previously watched a talk by Laura Willis from Shine Offline on YouTube called “Me and My Smartphone Thriving in a Hyperconnected World”. Shine Offline is a management and digital wellbeing business that focuses on using technology in a sustainable way. The talk explained that when we have our phones in our hands, in our pockets or next to us we will fail at having proper conversations as we have continuous partial attention. So long as your mobile phone is in sight or you can feel it, you will be longing for it to light up and will only be partially paying attention to those around you and your surroundings. People are continuously failing to live in the moment due to their dysfunctional relationship with technology and allowing it to distract them from real life.

In Sherry Turkle’s 2012 TED Talk ‘Connected, but alone?’ she discusses the exponential growth of technology, how social media impacts our relationships and how to get back in touch with reality. By having our own identity in the virtual world, we lose our identity in the real world. In the online world, we only post the good things and what we want the rest of the world to see. For example, when we follow someone on Instagram, we see their relationships, where they’ve been and what they’ve experienced; more often than not these experiences will only be positive. We take that information and compare it to our own lives, making us wonder why our lives are not the same (particularly if your life is not as you want it to be or you are going through a bad time). What we see online is not reality. What we don’t see behind those ‘perfect’ relationships are the arguments, the bickering, the hard times. Human relationships are not straight forward, life is not all sunshine and rainbows and following people (or “influencers”) online that only show the positive things will only have a negative impact on how you view your life.

Turkle discussed how a teenage boy once said to her that one day he hopes he knows how to have a real conversation. She then goes on to say how ‘real’ conversations are overwhelming to millennials because they are permanent, they can’t be edited or deleted. As Salvador Dali said “Mistakes are almost always sacred in nature. Never try to correct them. On the contrary: rationalise them, understand them thoroughly. After that, it will be possible for you to sublimate them”. This quote was mentioned in the Psychoanalysis Contextual Studies lecture but relates to how millennials are afraid of lacking control. In real life you cannot control some things and I feel a lot of people are ignorant in considering the impact that their words have and the consequences that follow their actions. People have become so disconnected from human interaction they are only familiar with conversing through a piece of technology.

It is no secret that at some point in our lives we have done things or said things to get validation from others. In a world with so much technology and 45% of the population being on social media, as a society we have never been so connected and disconnected at the same time. As Turkle said in her TED Talk, she often feels as though no one is listening but technology gives us ears that we know will listen, “we are tempted by machines that offer companionship”. If no one in real life is listening, an online platform (such as Facebook or Twitter) will give us automatic listeners and make us feel validated. It is important to recognise this unhealthy relationship we have and become comfortable with solitude. This is key in getting in touch with the real world, creating space in your home where technology is not allowed, having real conversations with friends and family and rebuilding human relationships.

Technology is always growing, there are no boundaries. It is important to rebuild these boundaries and recognise where our lives have been overridden by devices and taken over by a life that does not exist. Links have been created with the online world while unknowingly becoming disconnected from reality.

TED Talk — Sherry Turkle: https://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_connected_but_alone#t-709385

Thriving in a Hyperconnected World — Laura Willis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IcvY0RaiWWo

Note: I saw this post on Twitter last year about following designers instead of “influencers” and it completely changed my experience with social media. I was guilty of following all the wrong people, people who were irrelevant and it made my pointless scrolling a bit more meaningful. Instead of seeing photographs of people from high school that I never liked, I now see designers and people that motivate and inspire me to be a better person and designer.

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