The Year We Stopped Talking
I have always been a social person and enjoy conversations with friends, business colleagues, and family. As a young adult and trying to find my place in the world, I was told by my wise grandmother to do what I do best: go out and talk to people – the rest will come. She reminded me of the time I spoke to a wrong number literally for a half hour. Translation: get yourself a sales position.
In today’s connected world, I feel like I have lost my own voice. I yearn for days filled without pings and beeps. Yet, I have a mobile phone, Kindle, Apple iPad, and Blackberry. I am blogging, texting, tweeting, writing on my Facebook wall, and am LinkedIn. I am connected now more than ever before – just not in person. I have “friended” people all over the world. All of this has pulled me away from face to face conversations.
I have joined the ranks of the 93% of Americans with cell phones and contributed to the 1.8 trillion messages sent from June 2009 to June 2010. I check my messages constantly when I am traveling for business or pleasure. I no longer have down time in airports, supermarkets, in my car, or when I walk my dog.
I am a part of the Connectivity Revolution which is creating a lot of divided attention. Is it time to step back and reassess our behavior? Continual connectivity is not necessarily defined as making real connections. The ability to be available to everyone in our own social circle, any time, can potentially weaken connections made with people in person.
The quality of time we spend with those who are important to us is affected by technology. I no longer assume I have someone’s full attention especially when he or she is reading a Blackberry message under the conference table in a business meeting. I am not beyond reproach. All of this behavior is like putting each other on temporary pause.
I do believe that technology allows us to communicate with our customers past and present in an integrated multichannel environment. We as a society have become available to each other 24/7. Despite the fact that technology has allowed us to communicate easier than ever before, 2010 was the year we stopped talking to each other. Books are now being written such as Human Expression in the Age of Communication Overload and Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other. The repercussions of our mobile society are yet to be fully understood. The chapter will not be fully written for generations to come.
I do believe that all of these technological advances have paved the way for reevaluating who and what matters to each of us in our lives. The other day I was so distracted from all my messages, webinar invites, and potential new “friends”, that I almost put the leash on my Blackberry instead of my dog, Oscar.