Between super vaccines, artificial limbs and medical science moving forward at an unparalleled rate, some scientists believe by the year 2045 aging may not be a concern. Statistics predict we can live an average of 80 years or more. With advances in new technologies and medical science, people are expected to not only live longer, but be more digitally connected than ever before. What does this mean for people in their late 20's and early 30's? For the first time, a generation of seniors will be fully immersed in social media and technology.
So is this going to be the first generation of senior citizens who will still have active twitter accounts? Maybe. Some people believe our tech generation will become nothing more than geriatrics glued to screens, ushering in an era of near muteness. Others are more optimistic, believing life will go on as it always has.
Launching Cell Phones into the Future
When people consider the new face of communication, images of virtual reality spring to mind. While there is now way to predict what the future will actually hold, current trends give a clear look ahead. Most likely, the future will involve our phones, or at least a similar technology. In a recent study by Mobile Insurance, it was revealed the average person spends “up to 23 days a year and 3.9 years of [their] life staring at their phone screen.” The study was comprised of 2,314 people, most of whom admitted they spent at least 90 minutes on their phones daily. The results also indicated 57% of people don't have a need for an alarm clock, while 50% no longer wear watches since "their mobile phones [have become] their first choice for knowing what time it is.”
Cell phones are here to stay, not because of texting, picture taking or changeable ring tones, but because they have transformed into a social media platform. Shel Holtz, an accredited business communicator, explains why they have become a cultural staple and will probably be part of the way we communicate into old age. Holtz states, “worldwide, 3 billion people have access to the Internet from mobile device,” also pointing out how “growth in mobile access comes from countries without infrastructure.” More precisely, first world people are connecting to the world around them without the use of laptops or computers.
Entire generations are growing up using phones for mundane tasks--everything from checking email to viewing weather reports. Holtz explains that in 2015 in the U.S., “40% of cell phone owners use their device to access a social networking site,” making it clear that no matter what the future of communication brings, cell phones or comparable technology are coming with us.
Why This Might be a Good Thing
When faced with a reality of people living longer and becoming more screen oriented, it's easy to assume we are heading towards a society of seniors who are completely plugged-in . Strangely, one woman not only hopes this happens, but can even explain why this digital addiction might be for the best. May Smith is no extremist or techno junkie, she's just a 91 year old woman. Smith has a strong grasp on the world around her, and claims to know more about the world and communication than others. Why? Frankly, because she's seen it all: the panic that television would destroy cinema, the rise and fall of pagers, the birth of the Internet.
Smith hopes we continue to stay connected through social media and technology because of a theory she has. “It's too much effort to hate and fight one another over nothing," Smith says, "Hate is hard, but just putting up with everyone is a lot easier than it seems.” Eventually, Smith believes, “people will finally get fed up with being angry, realize it's a waste of time and spread that message on their devices.” At least that's what she hopes. “There are still going to be grumpy old men yelling about daft things," she continues, "but most people will realize just being peaceful works.”
Still, Smith is convinced there is no danger of humanity being completely controlled by their electronic devices. "People will always need to be physically around people,” she explains, “I know Skype and cell phones are great for communication, and I know in the future we can only get more connected, but people still need to communicate face to face.”
Experts in communication and future technology fields have similar theories and predictions. Patrick Tucker, editor of The Futurist magazine, has written over 180 articles about future technologies and their implications. He believes the future of social media and Internet communication will drive people closer together, physically. According to Tucker, “by the year 2020 we will have figured out the best use of social networks: liberating people from offices. We can better use it to facilitate work relationships so that people might spend more time in physical presence of the people they love.”
People like Tucker and Smith believe that as we continue to age and grow with social media, technology and the Internet, we're finding more ways to spend time connecting with the people who matter to us, rather than isolating ourselves. While people will probably continue to speak to each other in person, what the future will bring to the world of communications isn't so clear. A safe bet though is on cell phones and social media being the primary factors in human communication, but who knows what new invention will change the way people engage with one another.