Solomon Osadolo: Virtual connections and the distance dilemma (Y! Superblogger)

Solomon Osadolo Superblogger

Connections via social media and chat platforms aren’t going away. It’s helped us to overcome the time and space barrier as regards staying in touch with people as well as performing many other transactions never before possible.

Chances are that you’re not alone while reading this. You’re probably peering in your handheld device to get away from being part of the chatter around you. You are not alone – in the sense that far too many of us do what you’re doing right now.

Distance makes the heart grow fonder, they say, and the heart usually longs for what it cannot readily obtain. That may be why we enjoy staying on social networks so much and almost can’t keep from sustaining our numerous conversations on BBM, WhatsApp and other chat platforms. We feel more comfortable connecting and sharing with people who are not really there. Virtual connections are devoid of the attendant turmoil that comes with having to keep up appearances in real time face-to-face conversations so as to ensure your body language doesn’t betray you.

It is not uncommon to hear someone giggle in the middle of a meeting or hang out with friends when the source of the giggle isn’t remotely connected to whatever is occurring at the meeting. We check and find out the person was giggling in response to a ping from someone with whom they’re chatting or some other funny thing they may have seen on a social network while peering in their handheld device. Everyone moves on automatically, accepting such incidences as the norm.

It’s a given that technology is subliminally eroding our ability to tolerate and sustain real time physical human connections. Before social media pervaded our lives, folks could hang out and really enjoy each other’s presence. Today, when two or more people go to see a movie or game together or attend a concert, one of them would usually whip out their phones and regale some other person(s) on the other end with minute-by-minute detail of proceedings at the event via IMs. The other partner(s) very likely won’t take offence because they’re probably doing the exact same thing.

I almost can’t do without my phone with me anywhere I am. Odds are, most of you share the same sentiments. It gets us through those mind-numbing corporate meetings and parties/events we had to be present at but didn’t really want to attend. Plus a quick glance at your phone can help with the awkward moments that intermittently spring up amidst conversations with people. But isn’t it a bit odd that while we may be present in a physical setting with other people for whatever agenda, it’s the virtual connections with people who couldn’t be any further removed from us that holds our minds sway in real time?

Imagine a scenario where a string of friends are each present in different (not necessarily formal) meetings at different locations with other people at the same time. Usually, each of them tweets or IMs the others updates on what they’re witnessing and they probably all giggle at their various locations (partially oblivious to other persons present at their own location) as the banter gets thrown around. It’s not as terrible as it looks because it could also be seen as technology helping us to monitor and sustain connections with virtual people while connecting with physical ones in real time. But if you consider the odds of the other persons present at the gatherings where each of the hypothetical friends in question are at having the same virtual connections with their own loops of friends at the same time, the implications are dizzying.

Connections via social media and chat platforms aren’t going away. It’s helped us to overcome the time and space barrier as regards staying in touch with people as well as performing many other transactions never before possible. Thing is, we’re getting so adept at using these tools and they’re continuously defining how we connect that, if we let it spiral out of control, there’s a chance it may deny us the ability to have a wholesome and real human experience. Maybe that is a spurious assertion to make now. In, say, about 20 years? Maybe not.

You may want to look up now. Smile and say a word or two. Join the conversation. Make your presence felt in the room. Let the others in the room feel you. After all, you’re the only ones that are really present.


Solomon Osadolo is a curious young man who has a knack for finding stuff out. He likes to read and he takes particular interest in technology, music, psychology, writing. He blogs at and tweets from @soloxpress.


Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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