Sometimes I really wich I could go back to when my English Grandparents were children. They predated the BBC (in fact my Grandma used to tell me about when her Dad had managed to get a signal on something called a “Cat’s Whisker Radio”). They also predated most of the other electronic equipment we seem to rely on – both to get our daily fix of news and gossip and to communicate with other people.
I was quite pleased with myself when I managed to teach her how to text when she was in her 80s. She died in the age of Mass Social Media (even though I didn’t bother teaching her about Facebook, etc). My Granddad died before Social Media was invented.
Nowadays we appear to be forced to use things like computers, mobile phones, etc, to communicate with the outside world whether or not we would actually prefer to speak to people.
It is all very well people being asked to pay bills, etc, electronically, but what happens when someone becomes vulnerable without anybody realising it – because they have not had any human contact of any form for a long time???
Last year I kind of had this question brought home to me – ironically via Twitter in the beginning – by a Dutch Police Officer called Wilco Berenschot.
Someone had told him that their neighbour hadn’t been seen for a few weeks. Mr Berenschot went to investigate. After climbing up the balcony of the flat the neighbour lived in (and scaring them at the same time) Mr Berenschot reported that the neighbour had indeed not been sighted in the outside world for 10 years due to agoraphobia. He laso reported that the neighbour was still alive.
The next morning I looked in a Dutch newspaper (I was in Holland on holiday at the time) where I not only found an interview with Mr Berenschot about the incident – I read some other horrifying stories about people being found dead in their homes (having been that way for months or even years).
We can no longer pretend that our addiction to what used to be called “The Information Super-Highway” doesn’t have human consequences for a wide range of people.
People are being told they have to use the internet (and the telephone) for all sorts of transactions which I – for one – would prefer to carry out face to face. Not only is there less chance of fraud, there is also less chance of being ignored or “fobbed off” when dealing with someone face to face.
Applications for Social Security (I am sorry but I refuse to call things like “Jobseekers Allowance” Benefits) need to be done either online or over the telephone – as for searching for a job??? You need access to a computer and the internet to carry that out to the satisfaction of the Jobcentre.
Apart from that – the list of organisations who can (and do) snoop around your online activity is becoming frighteningly long. It wouldn’t be so bad if the organisations doing the snooping actually used the information to help the “snooped on”.
Going back to the idea of looking for a job for a minute – just think how many jobs would be created if organisations like Councils, etc, went back to doing things the oldfashioned way and dealt with humans face to face. Just think – as well – how many avoidable fatalities through lack of human contact would be avoided.
Don’t get me wrong – Electronic equipment can be a very good thing if used correctly – as in – as a means of serving people instead of as a wall for people of all walks of life to hide behind.
We just have to go back to the beginning and relearn how to communicate with people in the oldfashioned ways side by side with the new methods of communication.