The loneliness of networks

It is said that animals reaffirm their connections by touching members of their clan.

Human language emerged as a substitute for touching because the clan size grew too large for touching. We began speaking to ‘connect’ & reaffirm bonds.

‘Keep in touch’ is still how we refer to keeping relationships alive. An AT&T campaign said ‘reach out and touch someone’, underlining phone calls as connecting.

Touch to talk was already one level of distancing caused by oversized groups.

Today with social networks, our connections are snowballing by the day.

So talk is getting replaced by text.

Overwhelmed by the emotional demands real engagement makes, we are evading calls unless very necessary, much of our texting also is forwards, emojis, stickers & abbreviations. ‘hbd’ is the new happy birthday.

Touch to talk to text, to safeguard against the emotional drain of engagement with our oversized network, we are getting more and more disengaged.

As someone pointed out, ‘take care’, a common sign off these days is devoid of meaning, signalling switching off instead.

Our conversations are no longer touching, making everyone in an oversized network feel lonely.

Ironically, the growing loneliness is not ‘despite’ the large network, but perhaps because of it.


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