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Heather Ramsey

Summary

I chose to do the question on growth because I have always had an interest with the future of technology stemming from my obsession with dystopian future novels. Therefore, I wanted to explore what I thought the future might look like‚ and what problems my theoretical future might bring. There are certain challenges with answering a question that asks you to look 150 years into the future, would a person in 1869 have been able to predict the rise of Amazon? Probably not, but they may have been able to predict the rise of high speed, round the world communication as the slow speed with which people were able to send messages hindered the latter part of the 19th century. People such as Alexander Graham Bell saw this need and pioneered ways to help overcome it. So, this helped me to pick my topic as I wanted to explore a rising issue which may hinder the 'digital revolution', loneliness.

I answered this question in the form of an animated video with my narration over it. I chose this medium as I believe a mixture of both audio and visual information is the best way to convey a number of ideas in a short time frame. It took a while to find the right program to do the presentation on as I have no training in animation and limited skills with computers. So, I needed to find a presentation method which was both easy to work and looked good. It was at this point that I found the Powtoon site, which many educational channels use to effectively and attractively put their point across. The website was free and easy to use and allowed me to upload my video direct to Youtube. I recorded my script and then started work on making a video that fitted the script thematically and timing wise.

One issue which I encountered was the website would only allow me to make a video under three minutes so I had to shorten my script significantly, in the end though I feel this was a good thing as it forced me to be more succinct with my points making my message clearer. After watching a fascinating documentary on how more and more people are becoming isolated, I decided that the industry surrounding helping people become more connected to the world around them would be an interesting thing to investigate.

I asked people like my grandparents (who are an age group prone to isolation) what helped alleviate their feelings of loneliness. They answered that their pets helped keep them in contact with the wider community, through chatting with people on the street while they were taking the dogs out for a walk and the dogs themselves being a great sense of comfort for them.In addition, I asked people around my own age if they felt like they were lonelier than their parent's generation. Most answered yes and blamed the rise of social media making it easier to amuse yourself at home. However, in a strange dichotomy, when people are upset or lonely, they turn to online friends as a source of comfort- this could be because of the feeling of distance making these online friends a neutral presence. I also observed that many of my friends treated their phones as living creatures and expressed distress when their phones were 'hurt'. Which made me wonder if humans could form emotional bonds with robots which would become a form of companionship.

Lastly, I also remembered reading an article on people paying to go on 'friendship dates' in California, these could be anything from a trip to a Café to a full day of socialisation. Which brought out interesting questions about renting people as a source of companionship, could people connect with those that they have paid to be there? With a little further research, the answer would seem to be yes. Rental sisters for Hikikomori (shut-in's who spend all day online) in Japan have a much higher success rate than conventional therapists, perhaps due to their less formal and more friendly approach.