Un-communicating Communicators

social mediaIt seems that we have been raising a generation that is losing the art of communicating as we have always known it. Sitting down, looking someone in the eye and exchanging ideas is rapidly becoming obsolete. Using a phone to actually call someone and speak audible words to them is almost archaic.

We all know what I am talking about. Just sit in a public place and witness the majority of people bound by social media. Twitter, texts, Facebook, foursquare, vimeo, Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc, etc, etc. The social media list grows daily. Our society seemingly cannot get enough of cyber speak.

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The problem, as I see it, is that we are losing the important art of speaking, hearing tone inflection, seeing body language and the eyes that tell a story and feeling and showing compassion for that story. We are losing a fundamental part of being human – relating to each other on a personal level of concern and passion.

Add to all this the short cuts that we take in grammar and writing. LOL, BTW, PPL and more are becoming the standard way to express ourselves. If you are uncertain as to the meaning of these abbreviations you can easily get a texting dictionary online. Good grief, Charlie Brown! Can anyone actually spell a word anymore?

Well, this of course is simply one of the complexities of the world we live in. This is a faced-paced society that gets faster every day. It is so much easier to text a quick answer and continue whatever it is that you are doing than to engage in a conversation that takes away your valuable time. Even tech support people would rather you send an email than explain and discuss your problem over the phone.

I just have to view all of this with a critical eye because I see our younger generation being dumbed down, driven to self-centeredness and entertainment instead of experiencing and enjoying the overarching important things in life.

social media1Technology is great when it works and when it is used properly in the hands of responsible people. But answering a text or checking emails during a conversation with someone is just plain rude. I remember on a sales call one time, my customer would ask me a question and his phone would ring. He would immediately answer it, talk for a few minutes and come back to me. This would happen every minute or two. Concentration on our conversation was impossible. I wanted to say, “Dude, do you know what voice mail is for? Let it go till we are finished.”

We all, however, are locked in to this crazy cyber world. There are more cell phones now than toothbrushes on this planet. If we ever leave our home without our cell phones, we feel naked and vulnerable. Currently there are almost 7 billion connected devices worldwide and the number of these is predicted to be more than the earth’s population over the coming year. New technology like graphene (1 atom thick and 300 times stronger than steel and a better conductor than copper) is making continual breakthroughs that will affect every one of us, hopefully for the better.

My point is that I hope, in the face of this ever increasing impersonal world, we can recall the importance of other people, engage with them in meaningful conversation and build relationships that will last.

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I challenge us to take someone to dinner, lay down your mobile device, just for a few minutes (it’s ok, it will still be there when you’re finished), and look them in the eye. You will be surprised at what you’ll learn from others in meaningful conversation. Let’s dig up the ancient art of communication, dust it off and experience its value once again.