It is commonly acknowledged that humans are social creatures, who benefit greatly by daily interaction with their local community, family, friends and interest groups. While some may take this for granted in our youth, as our networks can be quite wide through school, sporting groups, colleagues at work and family connections – as we get older, our reliance on certain groups for companionship grows since travelling and getting around the neighbourhood become increasingly difficult. So how has companionship and communication changed over time?

Greater Access, Faster Responses

One hundred years ago, the main communication technologies where telegraphs and landline telephones. This was followed over time by the mass adoption of radio, television sets and fax machines. Fast-forward to the Nineties which saw the rise of the mobile phone and the internet, a much faster pace of interaction where texting was becoming increasingly popular. Today, there are a plethora of digital platforms at our fingertips depending on our media appetite – such as Skype, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Tinder.

Social and Antisocial Media

According to latest reports, around 88% of Australians have a social media profile. Facebook is the largest social network in the country, since launching in 2004 it has grown to 15 million unique active monthly users in Australia alone. While the platform has benefitted communities through being able to connect instantly with hundreds (perhaps thousands) of friends, literally everyone you know, via status updates, photos, videos, events and interest groups, it has also come with negative aspects such as the rise of fake news, internet trolls and ‘catfish’ – where criminals make fake social profiles to scam vulnerable or lonely people.

Video Values

Since Skype and YouTube have entered our lives, video calls and on-demand short video clips have replaced our need for the telephone and linear television. Now we can interact with body language, see facial expressions and surroundings when we call our family, friends and colleagues. We can also share and comment on video clips within specific interest groups on a global scale. This has also led to the growth of influencers, who through sharing their interests and broadcasting their talents, have built fan-bases with people they have never met. In fact, some of these fan-bases are so big they rival the viewership of major television networks!

Instant and Constant

Since 2009 when WhatsApp launched, the latest trend of ‘always on’ instant messaging and group chat has further changed our behavior and added to the social pressure of quick responses with the ‘seen’ function and notification system. These mobile chat apps and social media such as SnapChat have brought together smaller groups rather than mass publication of messages, and have made video and image sharing much easier. In our modern times, thanks largely to advancements in technology, society is in constant communication with people all over the world.

Overall, it seems that in this day and age, companionship is becoming more and more dependent on these digital tools. But what if you aren’t online? In some rural communities and within some older generations, access to technology and the internet isn’t readily available. In this sense, some people may not have the intuition and understanding of mobile apps, social media and video calls that comes so naturally to their younger and metropolitan counterparts.

If you live in NSW, and either you or someone you know are feeling lonely or looking for companionship, Like Family can help. Every Social Carer has been vetted by our staff, with a focus on values. Like Family is fully flexible, simple and easy to sign up – with personal, dedicated care which is tailored to each of our members based on location and interests.