Regular readers of my blogs will know that I am a strong advocate of the benefits of social media. I have written many times about the positive things it brings to modern life when it is used to good effect. I do accept that there are negatives associated with the use of social media and that it can put the spotlight on the worst of human nature. But even I had to sigh when I read a story in the local paper this week.
The article was a relatively low-level issue of a small caravan fire at a house. But the thing that made it much more interesting was that people were spotted taking pictures and posting them on Facebook rather than phoning 999 for emergency help. (http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/onlookers-took-pictures-facebook-instead-7609838)
It made me think that if we don’t take care we will be using technology to distance ourselves from what happens every day in our lives. It is great to be able to capture moments using mobiles but when it means we are constantly hiding behind the phone then it starts to become an issue of concern. Some years ago when I was working as a local journalist I often wondered how war correspondents and others could stand back dispassionately when they watch disaster unfold. They stand back and don’t intervene. But this is what we are starting to see if people stand back rather than step in to help.
It is quite a scary thought that in a few years we might find everyone is documenting and photographic what happens without recognising the need to step in and help. Will people just watch criminals at work? Will they photograph those people injured or dying in road accidents? Will they snap people as they wait for an ambulance?
I really hope that we don’t get to this situation. If we do then we have lost the connection to what makes us human – caring and nurturing each other. The technology is great it means we can be in touch with the emergency services much quicker and we can connect with each other. But if we lose the central humanity of people then we ultimately are not making use of the facilities now at our fingertips.