Technology is a wonderful thing. The world used to be such a big place limiting our interactions to only our surroundings but this is no longer the case. At a click of the mouse we are able to visit any place on the globe. Technologies like Instant Messaging, Skype and Facebook has made keeping in touch with family living abroad so simple. Our lives have changed forever as we are truly part of a global village.
But this this connectivity comes at a price.
During my consultancy, I am finding a trend that is emerging – people are perceived to be who their texted persona is. And not always in a good way.
Sherry Turkle presented at TED the Innovation of Loneliness where she describes our modern world as:
- “We are collecting friends like stamps. Not distinguishing quality verses quantity. “
- “Converting the deep intimacy of friendship with exchanging of photos and chat conversation. “
- “Sacrificing conversation for mere connections”
- “So we claim to have many friends where we are lonely”
There is no longer the distinction between online lives and real-lives as they are merged into one. There is a danger that we lose ourselves in the tech and that has a direct impact on everyone around us.
As we travel through this insanely-connected world, here are few guidelines we should remember and not fall into the trap of hiding behind the “internet wall”:
- Email is you – it is easy to type something quickly and email it. We do it so often we don’t think twice about it and that is the problem. We forget that an email is actually the same as us saying it. Don’t hide behind the text and don’t use it as a shield to be rude/ obnoxious. If you don’t feel right saying it, don’t type it.
- Reply is Important – Don’t be rude. If someone has reached out to you on Email or via Social Network, they are expecting a reply. There are some that reply immediately and some that wait for mail to accumulate and reply at once. A good practice is to get the simple quick replies out of the way and deal with the others in batches at specific time of day. Either way – just reply. The reply might be “No” and that is not an answer that they want to hear, but at least it is an answer.
- All in the Text – when we meet we send out non-verbal signals and those signals help the conversation. When we communicate online, we don’t have those visual cues and so things do get lost in the text-only “speech”. We need to remember that not everything you can say in a face-to-face interaction can be transcribed online and interpreted in the same way.
- Balance it all – there is a time and place for online and a time for real interaction. When a friend or family member is going through a hard time, a WhatsApp message might be fine initially but there is nothing like a face to face discussion. Lunch with a customer is better than sending an email asking if your service is ok.
The use of technology is the next step in human evolution but it needs to have the same filters that we impose on ourselves in the real-world. Text messages have the same power just as words do. We just need to impose the same censoring filters we use in our daily people interaction.
or risk become the grouch that no one wants to be deal with.
*image from shutterstock.com