Happiness Through Annoyance (and other Thoughts)

I often find myself contemplating on the effects modern technology has had on society.  From putting up with text messages to low-quality cell phone connections to MP3 players, people have found so many new annoyances that the old ones (e.g., interacting with other human beings is all but a lost art). 

Cracked.com has a really insightful article entitled 7 Reasons the 21st Century is Making You Miserable.  From the introduction:

Scientists call it the Naked Photo Test, and it works like this: say a photo turns up of you nakedly doing something that would shame you and your family for generations. Bestiality, perhaps. Ask yourself how many people in your life you would trust with that photo. If you’re like the rest of us, you probably have at most two.

Even more depressing, studies show that about one out of four people have no one they can confide in.

The article makes some excellent points.  Part of existing in society involves putting up with annoyances, interruptions, and other such issues.  People have effectively isolated themselves from these things.  While it’s good to be able to use a laptop on a plane rather than chit-chatting with another annoying passenger, there is something that we’re losing.  Text messaging, to me (at least without a full keyboard) is perhaps one of the worst methods of communication ever invented.  I like e-mail as a primary contact method, but using a 9-digit input method leads to all kinds of misunderstandings and impersonal messages.  

In some ways, I miss the days of Seinfeld.  Life was annoying without cell phones (think of how many episodes would have to be rewritten entirely with today’s technology), but there were some benefits to it.  Rather than interacting online, people met in-person.  Personally, I’ve found that it’s like pulling teeth to get people to actually go out for a beer or a happy hour.

My hope: People will begin to realize that communicating via brief text messages and e-mail is a distant second choice to meeting face-to-face.  Human beings evolved to want, need, and benefit from social interaction.  In fact, one of the reasons I started this blog was my inability to muster of intelligent conversations with people in the real world.  Strangely, all of this has made me less likely to seek out personal interactions.  So, what’s the solution?


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