In Aurecon’s latest Just Imagine blog post, Evelyn Storey argues that while technology offers us so much convenience right at our fingertips, there is also the reality that it is making us more disconnected and isolated from the real world. Perhaps, through intelligent design, engineers and architects could bring the balance, expecting just as much, if not more, from one another than from the technology we have come to rely on.

Blog excerpt:
Don’t look now, but there’s a giant irony crouching in the corner. It goes something like this: with over 24 billion devices to connect us to one another worldwide, we are somehow lonelier than ever. We’ve grown our average pool of friends on Facebook to 338, but one-quarter of Americans lack a single confidant in whom they feel safe and vulnerable enough to share the ‘important matters’.

On one hand, the possibilities for self-expression and community-building through digital connectivity are boundless and wonderful. On the other hand, surveys like the 2017 Royal Society for Public Health in Britain find the detrimental effects of social media a cancer on the rise. With a severe increase in anxiety and depression, cyberbullying and FOMO-based fear, it’s as if the cyber spaces we fill with conversation are making us hollow on the inside. We are connected, but all the more isolated.

And this phenomenon is not only an ideological one. Research shows that millennials are the generation most likely to stay put rather than to leave their home to socialise. Everything from door to door pizza, to gaming, to Friday night movies, is readily available at home with a click, nullifying the need to buy those overpriced drinks, or take off those comfy slippers after a long week. There’s the fantastic benefit to so much convenience at your fingertips. But there’s also the reality that we’re starting to expect more from technology and less from one another ‒ a reality that chips away at the fundamental human need for social interaction and leads to all sorts of psychological downward spirals.