I have been thinking a lot about where we are headed with the human element and interactions with other human beings both in our business environments and social circles. I wonder and I think to myself, is the human element of social interaction and engagement really going to go away? No, it canít...or can it??
Will showing up ďin personĒ or talking to a ďliveĒcustomer service lose out to online buying and live chats?
Is social media going to win out over friends getting together and hanging out to catch up. Think about though, what is there to catch up on really-theyíve already seen it all on Instagram and Facebook.
Are video games taking place of kids going outside to ride their bikes, or grabbing a stick to play street hockey or finding a rock to play Hopscotch with your neighborhood friend? What neighborhood friend, we have neighbors?
Okay so Iím being a little facetious and I guess these are rhetorical questions, but I admit I am fearful of the reality that could be pending only because of what I witness. Do you witness it too....and wonder....?
I wonder...is technology really taking over the personal connections of our everyday interactions and the way we live our daily lives with other human beings.
Have you noticed .....that people would rather look at their phone than engage in small talk. I was giving blood the other day, lying on a gurney, not much to do, but lie there and make a fist, repeatedly. As I am laying there, I think, well, I could take a nap, but Iím not tired or I could chat it up with a co-worker and get to know him a little better. I look over and heís on his phone, scrolling, reading, and in his own little world, perfectly content and enjoying himself. So I chose to not interact or disturb him, but his action disturbed me. He consciously and honestly, I think mostly out of pure habit, grabbed his best friend, his Iphone and checked out into another world while giving blood. He was in a different place, in his world I think he even forgot that he was giving blood at that moment, he was just catching up with a few friends. Now donít get me wrong, I am also guilty of this, on occasion, but I am very much aware of it and really try to make a point to not let it take over and substitute for ďliving in the moment with othersĒ. I stress this to my boys as well, now that they have phones I am forever reminding them to put them away.
Wait I have more, how about this one- young couples and even older couples for that matter, are on their cell phones at dinner or gazing thoughtlessly at the strategic TVs interspersed throughout the restaurants dining area. The Televisions are everywhere nowadays, I understand how and why we got to this point, but I donít know if we realized the effect that it would have on us. Everyone is always connected to their electronics, it does take will power to step away from technology. Ironic enough, Iím writing this article from my iPad!haha
Itís not just in our social and personal worlds , itís happening in the business world too. I have noticed that customers and some co-workers do not respond to phone calls or voicemail anymore, but now they also arenít responding to email either. I like to meet with people in person to get their attention and keep them from being distracted.
I went to visit, a few of my customers, in person, the other day. Why??? Because I missed them....a lot. I missed talking to them, laughing with them, and just being present in their company. Making connections with others in real time, in real life, matters, well at least it does to me.
I donít think all hope is lost. But I do want you to think about disconnecting a little once and awhile. Call up an old friend and have lunch with him or her and truly give your undivided attention to them, without checking your phone ten times in one hour. You may not even realize that you do it because it is such an ingrained habit now. But, what you might also realize, like I did, is that I truly miss the social interactions, connections made and the joy of listening to others without distraction. Take time to truly enjoy the people and loved ones that you are with when you are physically in there company. If youíre hanging out over the fire pit or kitchen island, put your phones away and reminiscence the old fashion way- by talking, laughing and connecting, without the use of technology. Honestly, you might like it. Do it now, so that I donít have to spearhead some kind of awareness campaign to educate and remind people about common courtesy and using their manners.
Melynda Wagner is a proud mom, local business owner and amateur writer dedicated to building relationships and making personal connections with others. She is co-owner of French Creek Boutique located in Elverson on Rt.23. Visit her shop at www.frenchreekboutique.com.