Meeting the Challenge of Homo Electronicus – Part 1
Here’s a riddle for you.
How is it possible to be more closely connected with more people across the planet than at any time in human history and be less connected at the same time?
Actually, it’s no mystery. That’s the very result we should expect now that the majority of our connections are electronic, fleeting, and superficial.
These days, you can be in contact with thousands of people without having a true connection with anybody.
Our ability to communicate and use language is the single most distinguishing characteristic separating us from the rest of the animal kingdom. We started out using spoken words and physical symbols to communicate … face to face. We added the printed word. BIG change. Then the telegraph … the phone … and then we went electronic with email. And now, we routinely use texts, tweets, and streaming video sent over devices.
And that transition to electronic communication has fundamentally changed how we behave and interact with each other to the point that it’s changing who we are as a species. Electronic screen users.
Think that’s a little over the top? Maybe, but I want to give you some facts and figures and let you decide for yourself.
Before I do, let me say, I write these essays to help you live a happier, more productive, and satisfying life. I’m not here to give sociology lectures. So, why even talk about this stuff?
Because the way you use technology impacts how happy, productive, and fulfilling your life is. It especially impacts the quality of your relationships.
Bottom line: Screen time takes away from old-fashioned human interaction time, and that has serious implications.
Am I anti-technology? Absolutely not. I’m like everybody else these days with my cell phone and tablet, kindle, two computers, smart TV, email, website, and selected social media connections.
I mean where would you be without your cell phone if you’re out in a driving rain and your car breaks down? How ya gonna watch streaming movies in the comfort of your home without the internet and a smart TV? How ya gonna get your web-connected toaster to toast?
Like we really need web-connected appliances, but you get the point. I’m like almost every other human in developed countries today. I’m wired!
Or maybe I’m wireless! Hmmm.
Either way, I’m not anti-technology.
What I am is pro-awareness and pro-genuine connection. As long as you can use your devices and still maintain real human connections, it’s all good. But for a lot of people and families, that’s exactly what isn’t happening.
I just think we need to understand how our new way of living is impacting us. I think it’s serious and we need to be thoughtful about how we use this stuff and how we protect ourselves from unconsciously slipping into habits that don’t serve us. Some people call those habits addictions. Again, I’ll leave that for you to decide.
Next month in Part 2, I want to scan the digital landscape in search of landmines and examine what we can do to avoid them. The answers are simple. Implementation? Maybe not so easy.
Till then …
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