New technologies are a way to open up to the world. By Dimitri Antoniades – CEO and co-founder of Yhostee
By 2020, 20.8 billion objects are expected to be connected worldwide (1). In 2015, France already had 72.1 million telephone subscriptions in France (2) – 7 billion worldwide (3) – and almost as many phones in use. There are countless tablets and the emergence of smart cars. These numbers are enough to make you dizzy. These objects, which have the vocation to transform – or at least improve – our daily life, have they taken the ascendancy on our social life? What about the human relationship in all this? In France as elsewhere, in a particularly tense social climate, do these technologies that accompany our daily lives promote the link between people?
Until recently, traditional human relations consisted of the ability of human beings to interact with each other on more or less serious subjects, on a daily basis, in all circumstances: to discuss working conditions with colleagues in the office, on the weather with a next-door neighbor or on the last episode of his favorite series with a friend, etc.
The Web: a revolution?
No, the Web has not “invented” itself. At least not to create relationships between humans. What the Internet has upset is the scope of these relationships: yesterday we were talking to family, friends or friends near our homes. Today, we can get in touch and exchange with the world in a few seconds. What has changed is the medium, the support, the tool through which the connection between these people will be made: it is now around an application or a social network.
Yes, we have become “addicts” to technology … Difficult to contradict, but also difficult to accept: we have become techno-dependent. Who remembers the last time he joined an unknown destination without GPS? Can we still do without his smartphone? One study has shown that current generations have more trouble doing without Facebook and Twitter than being deprived of eating, smoking or having sex (4). There are even clinics specializing in the care of people with a technology addiction and there are countless articles that evoke the new methods of “disconnection”.
… and that’s the best thing that has happened to us. Apart from these few exceptions, the observation is crystal clear: technology renders service, helps the human, supports its actions and allows relationships. No, technology does not create exchanges, it transforms them. Until now, to sell the clothes of her children who had become too small, we had to wait for the annual flea market of the town or village. Today? You can post an ad on resale sites in a few clicks. Easy, practical, useful. This does not prevent flea markets from continuing to prosper in parallel.
There is now – really – an application for everything. There are social networks to no longer go jogging on your own, online communities to hunt Pokémons in a group, you can choose your coworkers and your place of work, even for a few hours … What the Internet users are looking for now, they are other people who share the same centers of interest around events that look like them. And this became accessible to all.
The examples of social relations that have become possible thanks to new technologies cannot be counted anymore. Remember the first “Facebook Apéros”: hundreds, sometimes thousands of Internet users with no other points in common than geographical proximity and belonging to the same social network. A new phenomenon of its magnitude, made possible through social networks and new technologies. However, nothing revolutionary in its principle: most were young people come to exchange around a drink and meet elsewhere than between the lines of codes of a social network.
Social relations yes, but relationships transformed. They have evolved, with the technological tools and the new uses that ensued. Generation Y is born with a keyboard in the hands, the generation Z cannot separate from his smartphone. In addition to the explosion of geographical boundaries, new technologies have created a culture of immediacy: we do not want to wait for a response to an SMS or an email: we want to know in the minute. Why? Because you can find everything, everywhere, all the time, in (almost) all circumstances.
Another trend that has emerged with new technologies is the opportunity to practice and share one’s passions around the world via dedicated websites. For example, a young woman who is on a business trip to Dallas loves horse riding and just wants to participate in a dedicated event on the spot for a night out. Search and registration is easy via these sites. It is even possible for him to manage his participation in an event corresponding to him directly from an application. Simple and effective when you are thousands of miles away and you do not know anyone there.
We can also mention the possibility of asking for help, support or advice in a few clicks. The forums have existed for years on the Internet, social networks have replaced them: good deals and discounts pages, pages dedicated to job searches, those to sell clothes for children … All this was made possible thanks to the Internet and supports (smartphones, computers, tablets, etc.).
We sometimes hear that there will be fewer and fewer mass gatherings, the fault of new technologies and social networks? The concerts are always busy, the movie theaters are breaking records and there have never been so many festivals. Ditto for sports stadiums. It even happens that a lambda event enjoys an exceptional craze on social networks and vice versa. Everything is going faster.
Of course, some will regret that during concerts or other mass events there are more phones lifted than arms in the air to enjoy the moment. But this is part of the evolution of these social relationships: people feel the need to share everything, to immortalize the moment: it is the “Generation Now”.
But these virtual relationships do not come at the expense of involvement in the real world, a surfer can quite visit his neighbors or participate in activities at the local level, as well as the “unconnected”. The time when new technologies were seen as a threat that could potentially drive a user into a “spiral of isolation” is over, it’s time to see them as a way to open up to the world and find IRL activities faster ( 5).