I find myself in a love – hate relationship with technology; I love the conveniences, but hate the effect that some of the uncontrolled uses of it bring to our society. Hear me now, while I don’t hate the technology itself, what is extremely disturbing to me are the effects that we, as a society, have allowed it to have. I want to touch on one of those effects in this blog: communication vs. connection.
As one who really enjoys technology in its many forms, I can say that it saves me a great deal of time and effort on many fronts. I love all the convenient features of my new smart phone! And I have my computer running almost constantly. What can’t you do from your phone or computer now days?
On the flip-side, although communication has gotten easier with addressing a large audience through social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and even what some now consider to be “old fashioned” emails, it has lost a personal touch. I don’t know about you, but there is something missing in communication when facial expressions and body language is not seen and voice inflections are not heard. How much is misunderstood? How often does miscommunication happen that we never know about? Fortunately, some of these incidences are caught because someone is willing to bring to our attention something we communicated that was hurtful or didn’t sit right with them.
While we cannot be paranoid about what we write using these various forms of technology, we can be careful. And most of all, we must not replace face to face communication with an electronic form. We must realize that some things are not to be said on Twitter, Facebook, a blog or email. How can I be so sure of this? I have been guilty of this very thing! I have also heard of others’ experiences that were similar. I am not alone in my error.
There is something so positive about human connection and relationship that we, as a society, must not lose. I recently read a blog by a very successful businessman who wrote of the difference between connection and communication, and how, due to recent technologies, he is able to communicate with thousands on a daily basis… but rarely connects with anyone—really connects. He described himself as a mile wide and an inch deep. Upon his realization of this he made a commitment to change! He also encourages others to realize the difference between communicating and connecting, and to make an effort to deeply connect with other people in their life.
I have heard some who encourage teenagers to have technology “fasts” – taking time during the day or electing certain days of the week where they put their cell phone aside, refrain from texting and calls, to focus on family, homework, etc. I am beginning to think that is not a bad idea for the whole family if technology is overtaking family life.
We all love the benefits of technology, but I just want to encourage you today to look at the relational aspects of things—the human touch, the eye contact, the smile, and the hug of a friend… none of these things can be expressed through electronics. I don’t care how many “smileys” someone puts on their note, it cannot replace the lilt in their voice or the upward curve of their lips as they express joy. Electronics doesn’t allow me to wipe a tear from a friend’s eye… and no computer can reach out and hug like a friend’s arms.
The benefits of technology are many. I encourage all of us to look at the benefits and use them! However, also look at how it may be hindering us, especially in the area of relationships and communication. Let’s not become a mile wide and an inch deep, but let’s make sure we are cultivating significant relationships in a way that they can go deep… with a human touch!