When you travel via train, everyone is on their smartphones. Everyone is connected and sedated by technology. You see it everywhere you go. Everyone is addicted to the internet.
At first, I thought this is would be a problem because people would be engrossed by what they see on the internet that they would ignore human interaction.
Over time, I have realized that the reason why so many people are investing their attention into the internet rather than in other people is simply because the internet is better than people.
Think about it. We have finite attention. We cannot look at everything, so we need to be selective about what we see. We all have different tastes and preferences. Because we have finite attention, we need to focus on what gives us the most happiness. Quite simply, the internet is better at giving us what we want compared to people. When I go to YouTube, I can bring up videos instantly that fit my interests, such as finance, dividend investing, veganism, and technology, but if I were to have coffee or dinner with a friend, they will probably have other interests.
Even if you do manage to find a friend who you can talk to who shares the same interest as you, the problem is that people can change. One minute you’re happy with them and then suddenly they become really negative people who complain about everything, and so then you need to spend less time with them because that negativity may adversely affect you. However, social situations are not as easy as the internet. On the internet, say, on the YouTube app, if there is a video you don’t like, there is a “not interested” button that you can press. YouTube then reconfigures the videos it recommends based on its best estimate of your interests.
If there is someone on YouTube who makes videos that you don’t like, you can easily unsubscribe or block them. Doing something similar in a social situation is tricky, especially if these are work colleagues or family. The internet gives you what you want and it quickly adjusts if it makes a mistake. You have the power.
Socializing with people is also expensive. It differs everywhere you go, but lunch will cost you about A$15 (US$12) per person and dinner will cost you about A$25 (US$19) per person. The internet is much cheaper, practically free.
Basically, the internet, thanks mainly to innovate tech firms like Google (and even Facebook), know what you want better than your friends, and they are able to give you what you want or what you may need more efficiently than your friends can.
In this competitive capitalist world, there is a fight for our attention, and friends have competed with technology and they are starting to lose. Humans simply don’t know how to serve other humans as well as technology does.