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Are We the Generation of “Social Autism”?


Noun: Autism (definition)
A mental condition, present from early childhood, characterised by difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts

Long ago l was looking for a definition of the current isolation syndrome we have as human beings. It’s a syndrome oft-characterised by a somewhat-abstract form of interaction whereby we spend 90% of our time our sights firmly attached to a Smartphone screen, and in which our voice is replaced by a language of letters and emoticons. Particularly I call this syndrome "Social Autism", a disease that makes us live as Avatars in this world of sounds, colours, photos, letters and emoticons. In this syndrome the reality is replaced by this screen that regulates our life, is this healthy? Is it the future that comes to us? Hopefully not.

I consider myself a defender of social networks; I am the first to say that they are an instrument of communication, of development and integration. However, like everything good in life, it can become an addiction. Paradoxically, this instrument of integration can also be an instrument of isolation.

Let’s give a fictitious example: Paul is a writer of articles for a magazine, a task he performs on his laptop from wherever he may be at the time. Paul writes his articles in his pyjamas, orders his food for delivery, talks with his friends and bosses via the multiple messenger platforms that now exist, collects his money from an assigned bank account and makes his payments online. He has a modern projector at home with a decent home theatre and is able to play video games, download or stream movies or series on the web, and can honestly spend days, weeks, months and even years like this. In other words, Paul found a way to live without having contact with the outside world. He lives in a fictitious reality, where his dreams and ideas are more important than the outside. Paul does not find any merit in experiencing the great outdoors; he satisfies all his needs within his own little bubble. He only interacts with people for a purely monetary reason. He serves in this case as a prime example of the “Social Autism” to which I previously referred, and I repeat: is this healthy?

While in our story Paul found that he could indeed do everything without leaving home, but he did not realise that the internet and social networks, though they provide an instrument to enhance our lives, can never truly replace the real thing. In my mind nothing will ever replace the experience of going out to a park and seeing children playing on the swings, or having a coffee and talking with a friend, or going to the movies or the theatre with someone you appreciate. In other words, nothing - absolutely nothing - replaces life.

So instead of using modern technology as a tool of isolation, let's makes use of apps like Google Map or Waze to get ourselves out of the house and witnessing the joys of life; let’s use an application to see what good movies are in the theatres or the best place to drink a beer or some coffee.
Following this ethos, I do believe we could ultimately say that the internet and social networks improve our lives. In short: to improve our life, we have to have one.


Guest Post by Luis Del Prado

Luis is a scriptwriter, teacher and journalist for newspapers and magazines in Lima.

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Are We the Generation of “Social Autism”? Reviewed by Sam Bonson on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 Rating: 5
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