Keyboards, phones and instant messages, oh my! How these gadgets are really effecting our lives.
I can’t lie to you. I love technology. I do. The gadgets, the games and the advancements that make our lives so much easier are a dream come true. There is however, no sweet without the bitter and no appreciation without the pain. But before we get to ‘the pain,’ I couldn’t perch myself atop a soapbox, blasting the ramifications of these fantasy items without providing a balanced appraisal of just how wonderful these toys can be.
I email. I text. I Facebook. I’ve yet to Twitter (or better, ‘Tweet’), but never say never. Connecting in this way is a time saver. No longer do you have to set aside 20 minutes to have a phone conversation because you can simply sit down and write an email. No longer do you have to wonder if someone got your email, because you can text them directly to their phone and get an almost instant response. And finally (though not entirely), you no longer have to endlessly lick stamps, fold mailers and stuff envelopes to send marketing mailers to one thousand of your most promising leads, when you can simply create one post on your Facebook wall to let everyone know the latest goings on with your business. How terrific is that? But through the magical journey better known as the adventures of social media and virtual expression, I can’t help but ask the question, “Have we gone too far?”
I began to contemplate this issue after seeing hordes of clients suffering from the backlash of all of those lovely benefits that the aforementioned innovations have created. Here are a few of the stand outs:
Loss of Connection
- We tend to lose the emotional connection when we miss the opportunity to hear someone’s voice or the resonance of their laugh. A phone call is still no substitute for in-person interactions, but it’s the next best thing. Rare are the opportunities to connect and they fly by mightily when we substitute the written word for the voice.
Disastrous Avenues for Debate
- I would be a very wealthy woman if I had a nickel for every time a client came into my office, uttering the words “We just got into a huge fight. Let me read you all 50 texts.” When we write the email or send the text instead of talking live, we miss tone, intonation and often misconstrue intent. How often have you read an email and wondered if the sender was making a joke or sneakily taking a pot shot? Did it ever cause hurt or a fight? While I commend the desire to resolve the issue, text and email are for no more than things like party invitations, humorous forwards, cute pictures of animals or information like, “I’m running 5 minutes late,” and “Could you pick up some milk on the way home?”
Unrealistic Expectations & Anxiety
- What comes with instant access? Instant expectations. When we know someone is chained to their desk and cell phone we wonder why they haven’t returned our communication in two minutes or less. In the old school of phone calls, it would take hours or days to get a response. Life happens. People have responsibilities and obligations that often come before returning your very pertinent and time sensitive exchange. Take a breath and remind yourself of this, to lower your anxiety and re-calibrate your expectations.
Disruption to Our Real Moments of Meaning
- Ever sat at dinner with a friend or loved one and missed the conversation because you were on your Blackberry, checking your twitter feed, surfing the web or reading an email? It takes enough of a toll to engage in these behaviors during our work day. Don’t let it ruin your free time and the opportunity to strengthen your relationships after work or on the weekends.
Bottom line: A virtual life is not a real life. A 140 character Tweet is no substitute for a relationship. Make a date to re-engage with your life. Get face to face with your partner, mother, father, sister, brother or friend and watch your life and connections really come alive.
Bottom line recommendation: Everything in moderation, my dear.
You’re now officially up to speed on some of the potential downfalls of virtual communication, which is great, because I have to run and take care of much more relevant issues. Afterall, my Facebook account won’t check itself, now will it? :)