An 89 year old ex-teacher has committed suicide at the Dignitas clinic in Switzerland after she claimed she could not adapt to the development of modern society. This tragic example of the systematic alienation and isolation that the advent of worldwide communications has had illustrates how we have both failed to maintain a community spirit as well as how dangerous our addiction to the internet, social networks and non-human interaction is.

She claimed e-mail had destroyed the human component of human interaction, and she is not wrong. When an e-mail is signed off with ‘best regards’ or ‘many thanks’ there is no genuine, sincere emotion underpinning these statements- they are impersonal and empty. They are void of meaning, and are detrimental to social skills; it is far easier to send a one line e-mail asking a question than it is to make the effort to have a conversation. Likewise, it is not unusual for a group of young people thrust into uncomfortable situations to revert to staring blankly into their phones rather than striking up conversations. The social aspect of humanity is in danger of reverting to artificial isolation, and it is not a pleasant way for society to unravel.

The woman said that the ‘adapt or die’ principle has left her feeling as though she cannot assimilate into our technological world, and that it is unbearable; some councils now use pay by phone systems to pay for parking, leaving those without some form of basic computer literacy feeling left out of society. The increasing dependence on technology for civil society to function is concerning; self-serve kiosks in supermarkets; pay by phone tickets; e-bills. It is impossible to live in this society without contacting technology at some point in the day.

…the social aspect of humanity is in danger…

There is thus a two-fold problem; the pervasive use of technology leaves many isolated whilst the lack of effective care for elderly people leaves them at greater risk for depression because they cannot cope. While modernity should be welcomed, and it does improve the efficiency of a trip to the shops, or paying your electricity bill, it also strips the customer service sector to its bare bones. You cannot strike up a conversation with the self serve tills (other than the dreaded ‘unexpected item’ tirade).

Care for the elderly should be improved, it is wrong to leave the most vulnerable people in society feeling even more isolated because society is rapidly becoming unrecognisable from 10/20 years ago (an age before smartphones, tablets, e-readers, self-serve machines, e-bills and the rise of e-mail over telephones).

…care for the elderly should be improved…

This is a tragic case which should bring to light the problems of a rapidly changing society which is devastating communities and leaving many left out of its so called improvements. 

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20 Year old History student at Royal Holloway looking for someone to listen my ramblings...

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