Where The Evolution Of Communication Has Gone Wrong
Slack, WhatsApp, Intranet, and hey, even texting- all things we didn’t have even fifteen years ago. The evolution of communication has been nothing short of amazing, yet I look around and see overall engagement in the workplace isn’t increasing, loneliness is on the rise, and we (generally speaking) don’t feel like we belong. The topic of diversity and inclusion (something it seems should have been a no-brainer to solve) appears to only be getting more convoluted and confusing, and tenure isn’t where it once was.
Now, yes, there are countless variables, I get it. And while those all play a role, I believe that because we’re on our phones upwards of 4 hours a day, on a screen for 10, that we simply don’t prioritize our time and make spaces to actually connect with someone. We think that a text is the same as a call, that a slack message is the same as a FaceTime, and that a FaceTime is as good as handshake or coffee chat.
No, we don’t all have time for ten coffees a day, I get that too; what I’m thinking though, is that we are subconsciously playing a numbers game with ourselves and the people around us.
‘How many connections do I have?’
‘How many followers do I have?’
‘How many people read my last article?’
We don’t look for depth like we used to. Sure, the convenience of the new technology we have at our fingertips makes chatting with people infinitely easier, but are we really ‘connecting’ with them?
Recently at an event I co-hosted, I suggested we do a short one minute workshop where we looked at the person across from us for 60 seconds, distraction-free. The results were astonishing. There were tears, laughs, and deep thought and connection. The trust built in that short time was like nothing I had seen before.
And that is when I realized that we simply don’t ‘connect’ enough. We don’t build relationships like we used to. We don’t know the people that we work with. We automate training programs, have digital programs tell us how to do our work and what resources are available, and we don’t see people the same way we used to.
Billion. With a B.
Today we’re sitting at just over 25 Billion. The growth of connected devices is astonishing, and we’re just getting started. My fear (and we’re already close to it), is that we’ll be able to go a full day without having to ever talk to or interact with another person. If that happens, who do we become? What does life look like?
Now, this isn’t to say that new connectivity is all bad. There are countless people who interact with others in ways they simply wouldn’t have before. We can also connect with people in different cities, countries, time zones, etc. at more times of the day, from almost any location on earth. Great!
And so given that we have capabilities and opportunities with our connected devices and apps that we didn’t have before, the word of caution is to not slide down the slippery slope that is the blind admiration of technology. If we look at Maslow’s infamous Hierarchy of Needs, Belonging comes right after food, water, shelter, and safety. Bottom line is that it is really important. If we don’t get out of this seemingly never-ending Honeymoon Phase with technology, we’ll be more connected, but more alone than we’ve ever been.
This isn’t meant to be scary; rather a heads-up. Connect with someone; see the whites in their eyes. Be the person you want to see in your friends. Phones on silent or off your person, and come to each conversation ready to give 100% of you, for 100% of the conversation. While we may be headed down a road that scares me, I believe we (starting with you and I), can reverse this trend it seems we’ve been unaware of to-date.
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