Is social contact disappearing due to virtualization of our world?

Is social contact disappearing due to virtualization of our world?

More and more novel technologies categorized as B2C E-commerce nowadays are about increased efficiency in tasks that were originally performed by human beings, sometimes even replacing these human beings altogether. During our lecture of week 4, B2C E-commerce, numerous examples of this phenomenon were provided, think of paying in a restaurant using your phone instead of asking the waiter as one in particular. But not only technology is eliminating social contact. Even though we might not think of it that way, online retailing can also be a cause for decreased human interaction.

One example in special that I would like to shed some more light on is the example of using a tablet in a restaurant, as in the article written by Venessa Wong (2013). This article describes the restaurant called Chili’s Grill & Bar, which started using tablets during the meal, allowing customers to order their drinks and desserts, as well as the bill, on a tablet instead of asking a waiter for them. The article states multiple beneficial sides of this innovation: bigger tips, bigger appetite for appetizers, overcoming resistance to dessert, keeping your kids busy and faster cycle time of dining. In essence, these aspects all seem very positive. That is, they are positive for the restaurant owners, but in my view not necessarily for customers.

Therefore, I would like to pose a critical point of view on this phenomenon. I am wondering where this virtualization will eventually stop. Will we lose all social contact at one point, because every task performed by humans will be replaced by technology? In other words: is social contact disappearing due to virtualization of our world? I am following this issue with great interest in the future.

Please feel free to share your thoughts and comment, I am looking forward to your insights!



Wong, V. (2013) That Tablet on the Restaurant Table Will Make You Spend more,, 22-09-2014.


3 responses to “Is social contact disappearing due to virtualization of our world?”

  1. anahita172014 says :

    o, social contact is not disappearing. What virtualisation is in fact doing is driving social contact through multiple touch points. Before the internet it was hard to find information and keep in touch with friends and family. Virtualization and numerous apps – Facebook, Whatsapp, Viber, Skype have increased interaction and information sharing. In the specific example – Chili’s Grill & Bar – I would look at it as another dining experience, just like – fine dining which appeals to some and might not appeal to others. It is an innovative use of technology for a new experience !

  2. odiliavanwassenaer says :

    The discussion on social media “taking over” our human social life is a natural reaction to such a disruptive change. Just like with any other great innovation, social media got into a very big hype which is booming as we speak, but will also flow into a more matured phase. Just like the first commenter, I believe social media have even accelerated our social lives, only now it is scattered amongst multiple touch points (quite literally). However, I realize the irritation that the automatism of checking all social applications 10 times per hour brings along. This definitely needs to change in the maturity phase, but within a certain restricted area of this new social activity. Therefore, I would like to invite a ture social media guru like Mari Smith (Facebook marketing expert) to write the etiquette towards using social media – in presence of human beings!

  3. 353404vd says :

    I do agree with both of the previous comments on this topic. I believe that a lot of tasks currently performed by people will be eliminated. Of course, this can struck a lot of people as reducing sociability and pure human contact and that is in fact true. But at the end of the day, technology does make the world flatter and more connected. Think about all your friends and family scattered around the world, with whom you are capable of Skyping with on a daily basis. Or, think about all the people that you are indirectly keeping in touch with through Facebook. In this sense technology is making us more connected. Apart from that, technology can also be used as a means to increase efficiency and productivity in our every day lives, sparing time for other activities or improving our standards of living. So, the benefits of embracing technology in my personal view over-weigh the costs of doing that. Especially, younger people will see their lives being changed more and more and it is up to us to put its influence in a beneficial direction.

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