With the rise of the usage of the Internet as a means of communication, a myriad of improvements have occurred. We’re now able to shop, talk, learn, even work online. We don’t even have to leave our house to do what seemed unthinkable fifty years ago. We don’t even have to interact with anyone. But is the accessibility of the world through the Internet really a curse?

Without the Internet, we were made to do everything by ourselves, in person and interacting with others. This rendered us having to form social connections with others simply for survival. However, due to the improvement of technology, the skill of forming key social connections has been lost. Decades ago, third places were popular in society: being a place apart from home and work to socialise with others who have a similar hobby and relax like a bowling alley, a library, or a coffee shop even. The premise of these places was you would eventually strike up a conversation and form a friendship with others who go to this place at a similar time to you. If you promised to meet with this new friend you made and you couldn’t communicate with them online, you had no choice but to go otherwise you would lose the opportunity of seeing them again.  These third places played a crucial role in society as if you were new to an area, you could easily make friends. Furthermore, having a group of friends outside the home and work bubble allows you to relax and vastly benefits your mental health. On the contrary, now, everyone is detached from reality and would rather communicate online thus preventing them from branching out and making friends they wouldn’t have made. 

In addition, the simplicity of everything being done online allows you to socially isolate yourself from the world. In Japan, there is a term for this − ‘hikikomori’ which roughly translates to shut-ins (referring to how these people completely socially withdraw themselves). This phenomenon is running rampant across Japan with nearly 1.5 million people identifying as hikikomori in 2023, with the majority being from 15-39. Instead of talking to their friends about their problems, these individuals have isolated themselves because they are afraid of the stress and anxiety the outside life causes them and communicate, work, and buy everything online instead. They often suffer in silence because they are too afraid and used to being secluded from the world.

Technology has managed to bring us together and divide us at the same time. I personally believe that the fact that we no longer form special social connections with others in our community and honestly the idea that that many people have that severe social anxiety that they have simply isolated themselves from society is so dystopian yet devastating. In our fast-paced technology-based world that is meant to make life easier, the efficiency of the Internet is more detrimental than beneficial.