Close up of a handshake.

Pick up the phone or have lunch: Connectivity is not just a digital phenomenon

There has never been a time when we’ve been more connected and in the know. Think about it. Settlers often didn’t know about an approaching blizzard, people didn’t have days to prepare for a hurricane and, even after 1962, we didn’t fully comprehend the near disaster of the Cuban Missile Crisis.

But are we really more connected today than in the past? Living in 2017, do we have better connections to our family and friends? Maybe not. I am thinking the settler’s family, crammed into a 20- by 30-foot space during a lengthy storm, had pretty good connectivity. Survival depended upon it.

Sure, it’s really easy now to contact Grandma on her birthday. Maybe we can even Skype or Facetime to make the day complete. But, again, are we really connected? I try to persuade a lot of people to place a call or make a visit to someone. I don’t know about you, but I certainly can tell a lot more about a person’s feelings and attitudes when they aren’t reduced to a tweet.

Still, the convenience and speed of email compared to snail mail is amazing. Just ready, aim and fire. Come to think of it, maybe that order is a little mixed up. Given the instantaneous nature of digital communications, it may be best to re-order those lines to fire, ready, aim.

Haven’t we all been subject to the “Write now, think about it later” syndrome? Darn it, wish I hadn’t sent that last email. Or, “No, honey, that’s not what I meant. Let me rephrase it.”

When you have a sit-down to discuss things, it really becomes enlightening for all parties. Have you ever called someone with whom you’ve had a problem and asked them to sit down over lunch? Talk about peace talks. When I worked in Washington, a sage manager told me, “I usually bring in the two warring parties in front of me. Then I see the transformation from hate and anger to a more civil discourse. It’s hard to name-call colleagues face-to-face.” Well, that was true then but maybe not now. Right, Congress?

“Talking it out” is a phrase that has existed for a long time. Do we now want to transition to “texting it out”? I hope not. You see, personal interaction is important. We know how important human contact is for newborn babies and Alzheimer’s patients. When you are looking someone in the eye, it matters. For the time being, the internet and all its trimmings cannot replace that.

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