Don’t put your phone down
There is no denying that across the globe, we have become increasingly dependent on a stable WiFi connection to satisfy our daily needs. Such reliance on connectivity is deemed wrong, unhealthy and even rude depending on the situation in hand.
Connectivity at its core is the medium through which all information is exchanged.
The demands placed on connectivity today cover the entire spectrum of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, from basic physiological needs to safety needs, esteem needs and ultimately self-actualisation. For those who are very connected to the digital world, even a couple of hours disconnected from the internet can leave us feeling uneasy. A significant proportion of the population would likely struggle to give it up and start a new, technology-free life.
The question is, is that such a bad thing?
This year has taught us that connectivity is, in essence, the world’s nervous system.
Think of lockdown, how would we have coped without connectivity? The detrimental effects we are seeing now would have been even more devastating, not only on the economy but on people’s wellbeing too. No working from home, no video calling or messaging loved ones, no online shopping, no online classes, no Joe Wicks making the nation sweat, the list goes on. Connectivity has more than proved its potential in creating communities, aiding communications, and enhancing relationships.
For those living far away from loved ones, connectivity allows them to feel closer. For those feeling alone in the physical world, connectivity offers a new sense of community. For anyone who uses the internet, connectivity is a platform for sharing insights, information, and ideas.
In the year 2000 only 6% of the World’s population was connected to the internet, by 2015 this had increased to 43% (according to The United Nations Millennium Development Goals report). More than half of the global population (4.4 billion) remain unconnected, the majority of which are in developing countries. A stark reminder of how fortunate we are to have access to the internet and the digital world with its limitless knowledge and possibilities.
The 2030 Agenda recognises the need to develop knowledge in these unconnected societies, so everyone has opportunities to learn and engage with others, which distinctly highlights the need for access to information and connectivity through technologies.
There is still a long way to go before the whole world is connected. In 2010, the International Telecommunications Union and UNESCO jointly established the Broadband Commission for Digital Development. Its aim is to promote the development of broadband and internet applications worldwide to accelerate the progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MGSs).
Bringing the unconnected population online and closing the digital divide are of crucial importance to any effort to build a more equitable world and these objectives are the shared responsibility of governments, telecom providers and the entire ICT industry.
Whilst we are in total agreement that virtual connectivity should not replace actual connectivity, that being face-to-face human connections. Whilst we approve of your blackboards inside pubs and restaurants that read “we don’t have WiFi, talk to each other”. And whilst we stand with parents who face a daily battle at the dinner table with phones and tablets.
In a time when the world cannot experience actual connectivity, we ask that you just take a moment to be grateful for online connectivity and think twice before telling someone to put their phone down.