American Apathy: The Death of the Handshake
Whether it be from sensory overload due to the unusually brisk adaptation to entirely new social structures (spurred on by the world wide web) or the general lack of concern for anything other than who or what is in their immediate surroundings, Americans are demonstrating an incredible amount of indifference to the systematic dismantling of their country's founding principles, and to the loss of traditional relationships as basic human contact among many of us diminishes.
One of the most notorious instances where the founding ideals of civil liberties and personal privacy was essentially erased from the collective conscience of American culture, was the signing into law of the U.S. Patriot Act. George W. Bush made the bill a law on October 26, 2001. Simply based on the manner in which it was presented to Congress, the citizens of the United States should have been incensed to the point of revolt. However, while still trying to count the deceased and assess the foreign policy implications, the bill was given to Congress in the dead of the night and it was reported by many members that there was a significant amount of pressure to pass the legislation. The true damage was done, not only to Middle Eastern culture with the invasion of and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan, but to our own society as well. (Note: more soldiers come back home from the Middle East and commit suicide than actually die in battle.)
Today we are defined by our presence in the cyber community. Jaws go slack and mouths agape at the revelation of meeting someone without a Facebook account. Ever increasingly, we are withdrawing from human contact. We forgo the touch of skin, in favor of the password, or pin. In developing this mentality, we have become disconnected from one another. This creates a sense of isolation from our communities. With all the communication taking place in the world today, we are far less likely to empathize with our neighbor than we were 20 years ago.
Those who make money from social media would have us believe that a community is defined by the communication that takes place. There may some merit to that. However, since only 10% of our communication is done through our vocal cords and the rest is done through body language, presence, eye contact, it hardly seems appropriate to call what we do online socializing.