The power of technology in today’s world can’t be overstated. Due to the internet and telecommunications we are able to consume and share information in ways that were unimaginable just 20 years ago. Of course, there is an upside and downside to every form of progress. I once heard Dan Pena say, “Progress has collateral damage.” I’ve written before that Mark Zuckerberg wasn’t thinking that Facebook would impact Presidential Elections when he was a young kid at Harvard trying to build a social networking site. But, in the case of Facebook, progress has collateral damage. Whatever you want to say about social media, it has made the barrier to entry into the economy lower than ever. I think this is a good thing because more competitors means the level of competition has to elevate. In my mind, the key process that the internet changed is the way in which we communicate. Text messages, emails, blogs, video, podcast etc. We can communicate and share ides quickly but I think the unforeseen collateral damage has much to do with a lost since of human connection that more people seem to feel.
When we think the ‘Customer is Always Right’ we think that Facebook is evil and did something ‘wrong’ to us. It’s just not true. Facebook doesn’t send out hit squads to force people to become users on it’s platform. We have to be accountable to self and be willing to explore our own behaviors if our relationships feel shallow and we suspect our own digital habits may be a culprit in that. The follow on task is to notice the collateral damage and ask a new question. Here’s mine, “How can I use this new digital era to create more face to face human connection?”
I could be wrong about this but I don’t think anything will ever trump face-to-face interactions with other Human Beings. If that’s true, then I have to spend more time thinking about how the podcasts, blogs, and videos I kick out create an impetus for people to push towards other people in live interactions. How do these messages over digital mediums give people more tools to develop genuine and real connections with the people around them?
It’s a simple question but it’s answers are broad and vast, the nuances of which I must work to understand. Progress might start with somebody asking a new question, or, wording an old question in a new way, or, using the same question but giving new meaning to the words with in the question… nuance. As we work to correct the maladies of the digital era I’m sure there will be collateral damage. As we start to get real with each other out of an utter frustration with fake facades on the internet, some hard things are sure to happen as tough conversations are brought to light. Maybe people have so forgotten how to connect that real conversations will lead to fights… Maybe marriages will suddenly fall apart and homes split because the reality of underlying problems comes to the surface… Maybe people become overly overt towards romantic interests because they don’t have the social skills to create social capital with another person before they speed to romantic interest. I say, fine. The alternative is to stay the same… To stagnate and just accept that the digital connection we get with people is the best we can hope for.
Maybe the collateral damage offers the chance for introspection after the offense… Maybe that gives rise to more self awareness… Maybe that gives way to the ability to observe more nuance in the way we utilize digital tools. However, self awareness does take work and accountability to one’s self.
I’m asking myself that new question and if you feel distraught about our current society in any way, can I suggest that a total rejection of it is not helpful or efficient. However, knowledge of self might open up some new perspectives on a changing world. That might lead to some amazing innovations in your personal life and the lives of those whom you come into contact with.
We’re not doomed as a race. We’re changing. Change is never pristine, but it is necessary for growth.
More in this week’s Podcast, Episode 43.