Alert to readers: This blog is more personal than most. It came about as I am struggling to deal with all of data swirling around us all the time.
I’m sure we have all seen the posts on Facebook and other places showing people sitting together around a table, not talking but looking at their phones. The message is and continues to be technology which was supposed to bring us together is actually pulling us apart. I was on cruise recently where we sat at the same table every evening for dinner. The couple next to us spent every evening staring at their phones while they were eating and never said a word to each other. It seemed so sad to me.
I am lucky to have a lot of nieces and nephews (both related and not) who take some time to share their lives with me. Recently they were explaining the Tinder app to their not-so-young-anymore Aunt. They told me that dating as we old folks know it is virtually extinct. With just a swipe of your finger you can delete potential mates just by deciding they don’t look exactly right. Knowing what I looked like growing up I’m sure I’d have been swiped away…a lot.
So we have apparently become a society where people are expendable and are to be dismissed if they don’t meet our standard of physical attraction. Now I don’t mean to say that physical attractiveness is a negative thing, it just shouldn’t be the ONLY thing. In further discussion they all acknowledged that they aren’t really thrilled with this new option but don’t see any other way to meet people.
We see a similar pattern in business relationships today. Sales people communicate via LinkedIn, email, Twitter, etc. In their defense, I believe they have given up on actual phone conversations or physical sales calls because they can’t get their prospective customers to speak to them on the phone or grant an appointment.
I can see a day where all we do is stare at computer and smart phone screens and never look up long enough to see the world. That day may even be today. We don’t even need to leave our homes anymore. Thanks to ever-evolving supply chain technology, everything can be delivered to us almost as quickly as the time it took to order it on line. How in the world did the Jetsons do it?
To make matters worse, when there is an opportunity to have an actual conversation, social discourse has become so divisive, people are wary of engaging another person in case their views are not in alignment with their own.
So how do we get past this? How do we take advantage of the amazing technology that surrounds us and still retain and grow our personal relationships? Technology is supposed to make us better, right?
The one thing that I believe should never change is the human factor in relationships. Living your life, whether it’s your personal or work life, on Facebook or LinkedIn doesn’t equate to actual interaction with live human beings. It’s wonderful you have over 1,000 connections on LinkedIn but who are you going to call when you need someone? Do you think those 1,000 people, most of whom you’ve never met or spoken to, are going to be there for you?
The original purpose of LinkedIn was to allow for a place that business people could interact and exchange ideas and contacts. I don’t believe it was intended to replace actual contact. I get LinkedIn requests almost every day from people I've never heard of, working in industries that have no connection to what I do, wanting to connect. They send the generic message and never add any comments about why they are reaching out and how they hope to interact with me. I have learned that I don’t need to connect with everyone but have to confess I still feel guilty about ignoring a request.
We have so much information coming at us so fast that it’s getting more and more difficult to figure out what’s important. The voicemails/emails/texts/posts/tweets are all shouting for attention. Which one is the one we really need to know about? I have to confess I don’t have the answers…do you?