In 1876, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. In 1980, mobile pagers were used to communicate with medical workers within a hospital and a decade later, pagers or beepers were now used by about 61 million people across the world. In 1989 the World Wide Web was commercialized. In 1991, mobile cellular phones that were large as bricks came into our lives. And now we have smart phones, Wifi, iPads, Video conferencing, etc and etc.
There are just so many ways to get in touch with one another. I often use this information to educate some employees who go on AWOL, that unless you are in a coma, I have difficulty understanding how one cannot communicate with their employers when we are in a generation where it is so easy to get a message across the Atlantic Ocean. In fact we are so glued to technology today that we tend to forget how important and fun, face to face interaction really is.
Let’s be honest here, like in my case, the first thing that I do when I get to the office is check my emails. When I come home from work, I log on to Facebook. To de-stress myself, I play video games. Even most kids nowadays, if you gather them in one room, all they do is play PSP, PS3 or apps on their iPod touch. There is no more human interaction. Sure there are a lot of electronic encyclopedias and learning tools out there, but would you really rather have a computer teach our kids the values and knowledge that we received when we were young?
Don’t get me wrong, I am not against with our current technology, in fact I am grateful that there is a online network such as the likes of Facebook, where you can easily reconnect with long lost friends. How you can simply get so much information on the Internet on literally anything under the sun. I get the chance to write this blog and share my thoughts. All I am saying is that it still has its Pro and Cons.
It’s just that recently, I felt that I needed to disconnect from all these distractions so that I could better reconnect with people at work, my family at home, and with my friends as well.
Like in my office, attrition is really an issue. People leave for so many reasons, some unusual, most are the “I’ve heard that before” explanation, and the rare dramas of domestic and personal problems. The company has taken steps already in rolling out incentives, doing surveys, and focus group discussions. But there still seems to be a disconnect somewhere. So we decided to reinvent our group discussions and tried to add a personal touch to it. To make it an event that they look forward to, a targeted small group per session, and to simply have the facilitator break those barriers and really make a connection.
At home, my 3-year old kid loves watching cartoons. But what I try to do is find time to play with him and his toys, because I feel this would exercise his imagination and interactive skills. Having him watch cartoons the whole day, may not be healthy. (I swear, I pretty much memorized the lines of Despicable Me and Rio already.)
In relationships, communication is very important regardless if it’s face to face or over the phone. (But of course, I make my case that it’s better face to face, so that you can also see the reactions and body language of the person you are talking to, and you can show emotion such as sympathy. For me it’s easier to adjust the conversation based on these.) And just like any good conversation, there should be minimal to no distractions, may it be you and the other person at a peaceful coffee shop, or spending the weekend at a secluded vacation spot.
I had my share of “conversations” in both worlds. I had phone conversations stretching to six hours, I spent several hours talking with someone till the coffee shop closed for the night, and sometimes not a single word came out but the companionship spoke for itself. It really brings out that connection between two people. It promotes openness and transparency, and a healthy debate does not hurt every now and then. Of course, for some, they are more comfortable conveying their thoughts and feelings through writing.
Personally, I feel like my brain is all cluttered up already, even though philosophically we just use about 5-10% of it, I am at a point where I want to hibernate and just free my mind of all these things. Turn off my cellphone, shut off my modem, leave all electronics behind and be in a place of solitude. It sounds so cliché, but I want to gather my thoughts and press the reset button so I can get a fresh start. (How I wish we can just reformat or defragment our mind just like a computer)
At a certain point in our lives, I feel that we really need to disconnect from all these in order to reconnect with those who are important to us.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw