Saturday, December 31, 2011

Shackled to Internet Communication

There's a common thread in thinking Out There. It's the idea that email is intravenous - an irritating byproduct of Modern Society. It may be the influx of smartphones (that's another blog for another day) but many, many people simply presume that "sent = know".

"When did you discuss this?"
"Yesterday. We all did."
"Who's we?"
"You know, the whole group. But you."
"That's not a 'we'. That's still a 'you'."
"Well, I sent out the message."
"This was with email? That's not discussion!"
"Everyone replied."
"But me."
"But you. So... 7:00pm at your house still good?"

I am a huge fan of technology, but there are limits to my fandom. I reflect on a phrase I had read somewhere that the invention of the lightbulb was fantastic... but it increased the workday.

Therefore, we are doing it again: the development of internet communication is incredible... oh the glory of mutually edited googledocs, the fiery creation of national uprisings... but it shortchanges the heart of human communication: face to face talking.  This, in turn, encourages the rise of 'social avoidance' which is mirrored in online gamer attacks ('flaming' - or annoying or harassing - an online citizen... which you'd never do in RL - real life), sexting (unleashing your inner perv) and online bullying, which can be between tweens or among so-called adults who are stalking their ex on Facebook.

I am cheered by the moments when one of my Sanity Soldiers (close friends who protect me against dissolving into tears about the fate of humankind) remarks that when sending out an email less than a few days in advance of the event, it's very important to make a phone call. Even if I don't answer, at least I have a voicemail from someone who took a minute to ensure that I checked my email.

Although it's not the same as face-to-face, it's our twenty-first century equivalent, and I'll take it.
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