Friends. Followers. Circles. Crowds. Networks. The evolution of technology has made the world an easier place to communicate with friends and to do business with people you have never seen before. At the click of a button you can share exciting information with a personal network of people, or learn about breaking news with the rest of the world. Overwhelmingly, technology has proven to be a great tool for connecting with people and doing business with the rest of the world.
Despite the countless benefits technology brings to our daily lives for personal or business purposes, I believe it is also the reason why the depth of relationships is eroding. We can actually follow a downward trend of effective communication since the start of the technology boom. Before call waiting, group chats and social media, people were primarily able to communicate with one person at a time via telephone. Without the distraction of smart phone notifications, people were much more engaged in conversations and had no other choice but to focus on the person they were communicating with. Today, a lot of people have challenges focusing on one conversation at a time due to text messaging, e-mail notifications, etc. Smart phones are causing us to be so distracted that we have challenges developing relationships with the people in our immediate presence.
Have you ever noticed couples out on dates that have trouble engaging in conversation because of their phones? Technology has made our society think that we’re missing out on so much if we don’t remain connected. A first date rule should be to turn off phones unless they are needed for emergencies (e.g. kids need to call, etc.). It’s even more humorous watching large groups of individuals focusing on their phones/tablets when they’re supposed to be discussing information or enjoying an outing together. Can you personally relate?
Even more troubling is watching the number of young people who have challenges communicating outside of social media or text messaging. Technology is causing students to operate in ‘their’ own world. While in corporate America I had the opportunity to interview and hire college students for my team. Frequently my interview process revealed that many students struggle with one-on-one communication skills because they weren’t required to develop them while in college. How can business relationships be developed without communication? If you are a parent of a college student, please encourage them to develop the art of one-on-one communication. It could be a key factor that separates them from the competition.
Even today’s 30 and 40-somethings have latched on to technology as a primary source of communication. I know some people who ONLY communicate via text messaging or social media and struggle considerably with stringing together sentences to communicate ideas in person. They are able to communicate for hours via social media or text messaging, but fail miserably while trying to engage in-person. If your text messages require someone to scroll through more than 3 screens then you should pickup the phone to communicate your thoughts. No wonder relationships are experiencing challenges, people no longer know how to personally connect, engage and grow with one another. If you desire strong relationships, consider disconnecting from technology so you’re able to truly learn about the person sitting in front of you.
What are your thoughts? Is technology causing a disconnect in today’s relationships?