In a High Tech World We Are Globally Connected, but Locally Estranged

I’m troubled. I wonder how much time you spend each day with your computer, iPod, BlackBerry or cell phone? By contrast, I wonder how much time you spend in face-to-face conversation each day? I wonder if you remember the color or your spouse or significant other’s eyes?

Silly questions? Maybe. But maybe not.

The power of technology has revolutionized much of the world. Thanks to many brilliant minds and a commitment to economic growth, we now live in a world in which people can connect with one another at any time of the day or night from anywhere in the world.

That’s a blessing and a curse.

The blessing: Business is always moving forward, boosting careers and financial success, spawning new products and services, enriching lives in every corner of the world. Information on any topic imaginable is available 24/7 and there is always someone out there who is awake and eager to know what you’re thinking.

The curse: Estrangement in many homes, work teams, schools and communities. Those people who sleep in your house or live in your town might be just as eager to hear what you’re thinking, but for some reason they don’t have the same access to you as people in faraway lands.

Isn’t that odd?

Isn’t it odd to feel good about being known in some global community, while at the same time feeling awkward and inadequate with a spouse or children? Truth is, it’s easier to send an electronic thought, safe in our private space, than to speak up with someone sitting next to us. Especially if that someone wants us to look at him or her while we’re talking.

Developing interpersonal skills is an age-old challenge and social interaction has always made some (most?) people uncomfortable. How conveniently we can now avoid such discomfort by logging on to a much bigger and seemingly more important world!

How disastrous to our very human lives at work and at home.

This is a tough thing to address because it’s so uncomfortable. But address it we must. We must find ways at work, in schools, in homes, and in communities to learn again about one another. What do we hope for? What do we want to be and do? How can we help each other grow strong, find joy, and relax once in a while?

In addition to teaching technical skills, we need to bring back instruction on how to deal with each other person-to-person and face-to-face. Our hope for greater inclusiveness in all aspects of our working and social lives depends on it. So does our comfort and satisfaction as human beings.

I’ll be writing more about this and reaching out to leaders in business and education. It’s too important an issue to ignore; too many people are suffering the effects of being globally connected and locally estranged.

Categories: General Advice

About Susan Marshall

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Susan A. Marshall is author, speaker and founder, whose mission is to create a stronger, more confident future, one person or team at a time.  Through personal experience and hands-on work with executives from diverse industries at all levels, Susan has had the privilege of helping thousands of people do the difficult and exhilarating work of growth.