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The Great Debate: Does Technology Hinder or Improve Human Relationships?

An article I read recently included the following incredibly striking photo of Liu Bolin, a Chinese artist who is commonly referred to as “The Invisible Man.” He earned this nickname since his most popular works of art (including this image) are his “Hiding in the City” series.

Liu Bolin
(Photo by Asiatic League on Flickr, via OpEdNews. Discovered on io9.com)

Bolin regularly turns himself “invisible” in various city landscapes to make a statement about “the effect development and technology are having upon humanity.” He feels strongly that technology hinders human relationships, actually hiding us from each other in plain sight.

His sentiments certainly have a degree of merit. After all, I’m sure we’ve all experienced scenes like this during the course of our daily commutes to and from work:

tech1

(Image via U.S. Yahoo! Editorial on Flickr.com; Image via TIGGlobal Blog)

However, I’ve seen incredibly strong examples of how software like Skype actually creates deeper, more meaningful connections between people. By bridging the gap created by physical distance, technology can facilitate very personal experiences that would otherwise be impossible. The ability for technology to enable face-to-face interaction helps maintain strong relationships. USA Today recently looked at how social media technologies like Skype and Facebook are keeping military families connected during long overseas deployments. And it’s important to note that technology has made international relationships and business communications easier and much more personal. We’ve continually highlighted stories illustrating these benefits on our blog beyond the obvious time and cost efficiencies of not needing to travel.

Cars, computers, cell phones and the Internet – ultimately, these are just tools to reach a greater means. Like any tool, how people utilize them greatly changes their impact. It’s all what you make of it.

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