Google ‘technology’ and you get 4.6 billion results! Try ‘social interaction’ and you get a measly 74 million. But the boots on the ground are telling a different story.
Have you been to a good coffee shop lately? What is it that makes a latte whipped up by your local neighborhood barista worth $5 when you could pour yourself a good old fashioned cup of Joe at home for a few cents? Perhaps the coffee itself is just an excuse to get out and enjoy the real-life company of your fellow humans making ‘social interaction’ worth the extra $4.95.
Putting a price on ‘social interaction’ is an interesting proposition. The rise of social media is definitely capitalizing on our innate desire for contact. But as technology expands exponentially and affords us the unprecedented freedom to communicate with almost anyone, anywhere, anytime, we’re starting to wonder: is that enough? At first it’s all so exciting- email and Skype and Snapchat, oh my! We can work from home and be ‘friends’ with people we’ve never met but in the end, it feels like something is missing.
coWORKers Christina and Bruce run Conference Hound, helping people find conferences and trade shows around the world, and they are witnessing an exploding industry. Has the conference become like the coffee shop, a chance to get out and meet real people in the real world? Whole communities of people have formed, reuniting once a year at these big conventions. And there is something intrinsically human about seeing each other face-to-face that Skype just can’t fully reproduce.
This technology craze is still quite young and as we become more seasoned users our experience could evolve dramatically. When it’s no longer fresh and hip and exciting to attach your brain to the latest gadget we could very well see the resurgence of sincere, authentic, good-old-fashioned social interaction with technology losing its cool and falling back to its designation as simply a tool. Then again, it might just be replaced by something we haven’t even dreamed up yet. It’s hard to predict the future.
Written and photographed by Natasha Juliana. This photo I find amusing- everyone came out to the coffee house but remained plugged in to their technology (except for the lone newspaper reader). Perhaps just being in the same room as our fellow humans is enough…for now.
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