Technology and communication – A unexpected lessonFeb 18, 2019
Do you ever wonder about the technology and communication? Do you think technology helps you connect to other people?
I went to Seattle a few weeks ago to take my daughter to see a new hit Broadway musical. (You may have noticed that the photo is NOT from Seattle, but from the North Shore of Oahu. I’m channeling the island weather during this snowy month of February) The trip was awesome and the musical was extraordinary. I’m a HUGE musical fan. I’m willing to go long distances and pay hefty ticket prices to see something I really want to see. 🙂 Ironically, the theme of the musical “Dear Evan Hansen” absolutely correlates to this blog’s theme of technology and communication. One of the major themes inside the musical revolves around technology and communication: emails, texts, social media and the challenges they present.
I don’t want to give you any spoilers, but this musical is definitely worth seeing. It’s in my top 5 list and as someone whose seen hundreds of live musicals, that’s really saying something. Parent note: please read the synopsis before making a decision to take young children to see this show to be sure you feel comfortable talking about one major development in the show. (I’m not associated in any way with the musical and am receiving no compensation for mentioning it here.). Anyway…back to the blog.
Technology and communication
So you may be wondering how this relates to technology and communication. While I was there, we used our phones as maps. Our friend who went with us used to live in Seattle about 20 years ago. She felt a little disoriented by how much had changed. I’ve been to Seattle multiple time, most recently this summer, but don’t feel like I know my way around from the neighborhood we where we stayed. We worked it out, as many of you probably do as well, by using our phones for maps and directions.
On one instance, while we had our phones out trying to figure out where the monorail would pick us up when two women stopped to ask if we needed help with directions. These two women looked like they were right out of a Seattle Chic magazine. Both were smartly dressed but one had a green knit hat with matching gloves she paired with a black wool pea coat that made her look quintessentially like a Seattle native. She was friendly and kind while offering to help.
We happily accepted her help! I found myself wondering how they could tell in a sea of people on their phones that we could use some help. Literally, everyone around us was on their phone. Some had ear buds and were on a call or listening to music, others were reading something or texting while they walked or while they waited to cross the street. The two women who helped us did not have their phones out. They had been walking and talking to one another and that allowed them to see us and overhear the conversation. Not being distracted by their phones had made them more aware of their surroundings.
Why this experiences was meaningful
It took me a few days to tease out why the experience was so meaningful. I finally realized it was because we’d walked by probably 50 or more people. No one had made eye contact before the women asked if we needed help. In fact, no one noticed us – or to be fair – maybe it was just that no one felt like they could approach. I began to wonder how many people I’d walked by that might also be in need of assistance or a kind smile. Everyone was in their own digital world with the exception of these two women who were sharing their world with one another and with us. Is technology helping communication? How are technology and connection related?
We know our phones and connection to technology keeps us “connected”. But does that technology REALLY connect us? Do we really communicate more or better using technology as a communication tool? In that moment when the woman with the green knit hat spoke to me, looked into my eyes and asked if I needed help I did feel connection. I felt seen and heard. I wasn’t afraid before she spoke to me because I knew with certainty that my phone did have the map I wanted. But there was something about watching her point across the street with her felt coat and fingerless green gloves that was very reassuring. A real person helped us..not just Siri on our phones.
I have started to wonder how many people I miss seeing because I am too busy checking email, sending a text, looking at Facebook or checking into a flight. How many people did I walk by who may have been looking into my face for reassurance or a friendly smile? Could it have been that they were the ones offering reassurance and really human connection and I missed out on that?
You probably have experienced being with someone face to face only to have them attend to their phone. It doesn’t feel very good. Technology and communication really suffer in those instances.
Just for today, what if… our phones stayed in the pocket or purse (or even car) and we made eye contact with those around us? What would our day be like if we had face to face conversations rather than texting a few sentences to our friends? If you try it, I’d love to know what happened for you. Feel free to message me or comment! And all this makes me wonder…
How do you balance technology and communication with face to face connection? What tips and tricks work best for you? I’d love to hear. Please feel free to comment or even message me! And if this spoke to you, please consider sharing or liking.
All my love,