It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The original promise of all the Facebooks and Twitters was that they would connect us in wonderful new ways. But connection over a text message or what is often a glamorized presentation of one’s daily life just isn’t the same as in-person contact. In fact, it often turns out to separate and alienate its users more than it brings them together.
I remain concerned that, as members of the new knowledge aristocracy, absent a little special effort you will rarely make friends different from yourselves. Now, studying the growing evidence about isolation, I’m concerned that you, the first age group raised entirely in the iPhone era, won’t make many friends at all.
In my own college days, a briefly famous Harvard professor offered probably the worst advice ever given to a younger generation. Encouraging both drug use and a non-productive lifestyle, Dr. Timothy Leary suggested, “Turn on, tune in, drop out.” Lately, I’ve been thinking the best advice one could give you, tomorrow’s leaders, might be the exact opposite: “Turn off, tune out, drop in.” As in turn off the phone more often, tune out the video screen, drop in personally on friends old and new.