Virtual connect, real disconnect

In a world that is hooked to the Internet, social values are the worst-hit because of the widening gap between ‘in-person’ contacts, creating a situation for a disconnection from the real world. It is a situation in which the current generation is glued to the mobiles, tablet PCs or any other device that gives him/ her access to social media, where they “look for friends online while ignoring family or social bonds”. Most parents or guardians have the same complaint about the generation hooked to the Internet. An Omani man working in a public sector organisation in Salalah sums it up aptly, “In search of a friend whom they have never seen, touched or even smelt, this generation is ignorant about real friendships and relationships that extend support in both good or bad times.”
This, he says, has become a global phenomenon, thanks to easy accessibility to the Internet.
Narrating his own experience, he had come back home from Europe after a month-long training. When he was away, he was constantly in touch with his children and wife via the Internet.
While he was thankful to the Internet for keeping him connected with his family when he was away, he also had some misgivings about it.
“I was happy to be with my family after a month-long gap and children were happy to see me. I was trying to share my experiences with them, but they didn’t seem to be interested in it. Soon, they went to their rooms and got busy with their mobile phones.”
Next morning, they exchanged casual greetings and “again I saw them busy chatting on their phones”.
Upset over the behaviour of his children, he got his home Wi-Fi service disconnected and insisted they have more verbal interaction.
It is another story that the kids insisted on data packs for their phones and started looking for an opportunity to go to public places where Internet was free. “Their going to friend’s house became a cause of concern for us,” he said.
While he is clueless about a solution, he has urged everyone to have more interactions with their children, and warned it might lead to a situation in which the children would go to parents only when they need something from them.
He insisted the children should not be blamed for this situation because “they are not the ones who created the situation. They fitted into a situation which was already prevailing”.
According to him, it is up to us to be careful. “Convince them (children) to strike a balance between Internet use and ‘in-person’ interactions, including taking part in outdoor games and other social activities.” Such a situation raises some serious questions. Are relationships built on the Internet sustainable? Are they as socially acceptable as ‘in-person’ relationships? Are the children of this generation getting diverted from the strong social values that are a basis for any cohesive society?

Kaushalendra Singh