I remember as a kid my friend and I would tie up two Styrofoam cups with a string and then pull them tight in order to communicate with each other. It was fun and it was satisfying to think that we made some kind of communication device with such simple objects. Looking back, we were in awe of the connection we could make with a simple string and a couple of cups.
I remember the fun of receiving a landline phone call. The phone would ring -literally- and someone in the house would pick it up. If it was for you, they would call your name and you would feel excited wondering who it might be. As if by magic you felt physically connected to the person on the other end by holding that receiver up to your ear and in reality you were. That receiver was wired to the base, the base wired to the wall and then ultimately to the pole. Just because you weren’t in the same room, you still felt as though they were right there. You were physically connected via plastic, wood and some metal wiring. You could feel the energy coming through that little speaker.
Recently, Apple made the decision to rid itself of the “dreaded” headphone jack from its new toy, the iPhone 7. Apple has even done away with the stone-aged home button in favour of a static force-sensitive button. One where you don’t actually get the feeling of a physical button push. But instead, you get a “taptic” button feeling (what even is taptic?). I applaud Apple’s moves of being a ballsy news-maker by getting rid of ancient technologies in favour of forward-thinking designs. But when I gave it more thought, I wondered when is this trend of getting away from physical connection going to stop? Or will it? Are we going to continually become less and less connected, yet fool ourselves into believing that we are more connected than ever?
Yes, I realize that a silly headphone jack and some kind of “click-less” button are minor in the scope of humanity, but there is a special feeling I get while wearing headphones that are physically connected to the source. I feel somewhat connected to the device. I like to be physically connected, in fact, I need to be physically connected -we all do. It’s a simple pleasure that gives us happiness, makes us feel right. It is why I prefer to listen to music played from vinyl records. The sound is genuine and warm as the needle physically hops around grooves etched in the record. Every time I listen to a vinyl record I can feel the music whereas simply listening to the same song from a streaming device, I do not. I subliminally crave that physical connection without even realizing it.
There is something to be said about physical connection. Each time we embrace, shake a hand or even high-five, we transfer our energy from one soul to the next. Even if the medium between us is not always organic, the energy still transfers from one soul to another. But when our connection meets the open air, it can be distorted and consumed by the noise of others trying to compete with our limited airspace. There is just no directness in virtual connection and no way for our inner energy to collide. In a world where we text instead of talk, Facebook instead of meet and like instead of praise, I feel as though we have drifted far away from our primal need to be physical with each other. I strongly believe that is why so many of us are anxious and depressed in our lives. We are superficially connected by physical disconnection.