Barren Fields

Technology And The Insidious Threat Of Declining Social Capital

Abhishek Kothari

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Civilization is what makes you sick-Paul Gauguin

We must be constantly reminded that a home is built, not out of brick walls but, by the meeting of hearts. Likewise, a society is built not by the trappings of modern technology but by the time spent in each other’s company because technology has enabled us to save time at work.

Sadly, the overconsumption of technology brings with it a very invisible and slow moving threat — the decline of social capital. People like Sam Altman (of YCombinator fame), many tech entrepreneurs and titans are worried about the hollowing out of society in Silicon Valley. A very visible symptom of declining social capital is apathy towards homelessness in a place that has created the greatest wealth in modern times.

This article explains the term social capital and the reasons why we should stop the insidious threat of its decline.

Last Saturday, I attended my friend’s birthday party. We were casually chatting about basketball and March madness. Suddenly, one of our mutual friend Nick made a very surprising announcement: he was buying a home. He went on to say that his house is not as big as that of the other people at the party. Obviously, it was big enough for a family of three which is what he was providing for. My friend Sam placed his hand on his shoulder, smiled and said: ‘you can build a house with bricks but a home can only be built by hearts’.

Nick looked at me. I understood he realized that comparison will surely make him unhappy. However, the point is: I have seen people with meager means be happy and many rich people that are unhappy and lonely.

Today, a lot of us using technology suffer from loneliness and are unhappy. This is a very slow moving malaise called a decline in social capital. The very bonds that define us are losing strength.

The Meaning Of Social Capital

In simple terms, a society with no social capital is not a society anymore. It is a group of unhappy and lonely individuals that meet each other for selfish needs.

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Abhishek Kothari

Futurist@The Intersection of Finance, Tech & Humanity. Stories of a Global Language: “Money”. Contributor @ Startup Grind, HackerNoon, HBR