Aug 3, 2010
I have a friend who found out the bride called off their wedding via e-mail. Another friend who was TUI (Texting Under the Influence) broke up with her boyfriend via her Blackberry. Just last week, I was electronically lamblasted by someone who doesn’t even know me regarding a volunteer project. Is avoiding other human beings supposed to be one of the purposes of today’s technology? Are relationships with other people taking a back seat to greater familiarity with keyboards and “Send” buttons?
I know. I’m a dinosaur. I was late to the technology dance. Even so, 2009 was the Year of Yearning and Learning for me, so I got on the social media bandwagon for the sake of my clients and my knowledge. So I’m not completely archaic. And while I agree that technology is great for targeted business communications, family emergencies and useful for staying in touch with people (don’t get me started on the quantitative aspect of followers and FB friends), I still don’t understand why the people in the above situations couldn’t pick up the phone or better yet, talk in person, especially over something like an engagement.
For some, maybe their choices reflect a broader issue of confrontation avoidance, which has never been a problem for the Hart lineage. As physician and Buddhist Alex Lickerman put it, “Electronic media transmit emotion so poorly compared to in-person interaction….it blocks us from registering the negative emotional responses, which provides us the illusion we’re not really doing harm. Unfortunately, this also usually means we don’t transmit these messages with as much empathy, and often find ourselves sending a different message than we intended.” Look at George Clooney’s character in “Up in the Air” where he rightly explains to his boss that bad news must be communicated face to face. He knows that the importance of one-on-one human interaction and how the impersonality of technology negatively impacts an already negative situation.
So if grown-ups already are hiding behind technology about significant relationship issues, what does that say to the next generation that is practically conjoined with a computer? How will they develop the skills necessary to have an intimate relationship with someone, much less carry on a functional conversation?
At the end of the day, healthy relationships with human beings – not computers – are an essential component to quality of life. In the “if you have something negative to say to me about this blog or anything else, say it to my face” category, call me. Your comments also are welcome.
Ironically, we will be talking next week about how to get started in social media. Stay tuned.