Technology Re-writes the Rules of Relating

A friend of mind has recently been scolding me every time I’m using my smart phone in her presence. She’s even sought to support her view of my technology use by having me read a chapter from Derek Blasberg’s Classy: Exceptional Advice for the Extremely Modern Lady. My friend, and the chapter claim that texting or emailing while in mixed company, and especially in a business meeting is one of the biggest faux pas that the modern woman can make. While I have my own opinions about ms. manners paraphernalia, the chapter does bring a generational issue to light…

The generation that I’m a part of will be one of the last to grow up with some understanding of “analogue” and the idea of “offline.” As the digital sphere advances far beyond what we can imagine, the generations coming up now, have probably had a cellular phone since the age of 10 or younger. The younger generations have grown up with the idea that whenever they want, they’ll be able to send a message to whom ever they please. This is in stark contrast to the idea of needing to meet someone in person, or needing to go to a phone in order to use it.

This raises questions related to the need for interpersonal boundaries in relationships, and the changing psychology of our culture. The phrase, “We want it now,” has tirelessly been over used in an attempt to describe our desire for instant access and instant gratification. There isn’t better way to say it, we do want it now.

Email revolutionized the way that we work and the way that we relate. It gave our society the ability to transmit a message whenever we wanted to a particular destination almost instantaneously. Text messaging and other services that operate via Wi-Fi like iMessage have increased the perceived availability we have to one another. Stop and think about that. Do you realize the power you have today to communicate whatever it is you desire to those in your life? Is it something you take advantage of or something you over-use?

Our one-to-one offline worlds are bombarded by interruptions from our “online” and “plugged-in” social hemispheres. It leads me to ask, are we using our tools wisely or allowing them to distract us from what is important?

This post was also influenced by a post on Faster Than Light, entitled, the Information Generation.

“We may misunderstand, but we do not mis-experience.” –attribution debated 😉


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