And so … apropos of nothing in particular and everything in general I want to bring up a current but socially complex topic. I’ve been thinking about how technology has brought us closer together and yet further from our basic humanity. We’re in constant contact with each other, but seem so much more emotionally isolated. Our messages are shorthand, abbreviated, mostly lacking time and patience with the communication process. Texters are missing the quick smile, the frown, the questioning look. They are missing the importance of being a good, calm listener while their friend is thinking about what to say. The human element has been taken out of our communication process. Type the facts, think fast, press ‘send’, wait for a beep and do it all over again. Our collective fingers have never moved faster, our brains have learned how to alter and condense language into series of nearly unrecognizable letters dots and dashes. It’s fast, it’s fact-based, it’s black and white. My old English teachers would be tearing their hair out over these culturally congruent travesties of the language. My old psychology and sociology professors would be dumbfounded.
Oh no, you’re thinking here we go again on another anti-change rant! Not really. I’m a “techie fan”. I text some, I email lots, I even started blogging, just now but I also think there can be some balance. Could we stop rushing about and talking about private things out loud in elevators while strangers are listening? Could we slow down and speak face to face sometimes and listen and think about what we’re saying? Could we formulate thoughts and sentences that take more than 30 seconds? Could we look at one another when we talk? Could we nod and say “uh ha” and make eye contact and be good respectful listeners? Why is it that people sitting together are texting each other and looking at phone screens rather than looking at each other? Why are people sitting together say in Starbucks and texting other people? What’s with that? Talk about rude! Take away the phones and imagine you are sitting with a friend and ignoring them and talking to everyone else in the room? How do you think that would work out? Clearly there is something about texting, emails and blogs that make communication easier somehow. But really folks, there is a price society is paying for all of this. Complex thought has been reduced to a series of letters on a tiny screen. Meaningful heart to heart feelings and decisions have been reduced to 15 keystrokes and then ‘send’.
Healthy thoughtful discussions with complete well-formed sentences have been all but eliminated from our social shmorgasbord. We’re training our children to look down at their fingers and not up into someone else’s face. Let’s try to bring some humanity back into our world. How can we do that? I’m not sure. Not that I have the power to influence the technological tidal wave but at least we can ‘blog’ about it. What do you think?