Are Home Businesses Promoting Social Isolation?
Sociologists have studied what has been termed “cocooning” very carefully since the explosion of the world wide web. Cocooning is the process of social isolation where a society withdraws from physical interaction with each other. This “hermit-like” behavior can lead to the decline of many cultural and social traditions. Cocooning also affects the way we interact with other when do finally leave the house and meet face to face. The availability and popularity of the internet has changed the way that humans communicate and interact. We can spend hours in chat rooms pretending to be beautiful, successful and brilliant when in fact we are average looking, overweight and unemployed.
The person at the other end of the keyboard has no way of verifying our claims or disproving them. Discussion over the internet removes an essential aspect of communication: body language. Such things as posturing, fidgeting and eye contact all are unconscious transmitters of our true intentions. We learn as small children not to make eye contact when telling a lie and to cross our arms to distance ourselves from unpleasant people or situations. As of today, the computer screen has no way of converting these communication skills into data that can be observed as overtones in the written text of a conversation.
This cocooning may affect the communication skills of future generations. While excelling at expressing themselves through the written word, our children may lack the skills to give a convincing speech in public of carry on a comfortable conversation while waiting in line at the grocery store. Some youth even use text messaging to communicate when they are in the same room. The prevalence of home based businesses may be in part due to this preference for cocooning and nonverbal communication. It is perfectly acceptable to home school your children, run a business from your home, email your mother and fax your clients. You can even order a pizza, shop for a birthday gift and have your groceries delivered: all without any verbal communication. As in everything in life, a balance is needed. If you email your mother today, call her tomorrow and visit her on the weekend. If you work from home, make time to visit the park. Join social groups rather that internet message forums.
Limit the amount of time that your children use the internet and cell phone for text messaging. Encourage teens to take a speech or debate class along with that computer programming class when signing up for college courses. Many great social traditions like wedding rituals and back yard barbeques may someday soon be in danger of extinction. We all must do our part to keep the spark of social interraction alive for future generations.
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