|It’s 6 a.m. and the alarm has just gone off on your Bose stereo – or is it your cell phone? Your Blackberry or iPhone claims you have 155 new e-mails between your personal and business accounts. You have messages to check on your mobile voicemail, Skype and at the office. If you have children, their school has now gone paperless, and you are getting 20 to 25 e-mails from various administrators and staff to inform you of everything from Ribbon & Wrap Fundraising and field trips to forms, newsletters, pink slips, blue slips, supplies needed, grades, your child’s behavior in each class and, of course, volunteering all that extra time and money we have in abundance.
Your spouse is on the Web following the Dow extremely closely to ensure there actually is any money left for retirement and that some day you will indeed be able to enjoy that cup of coffee or read the paper uninterrupted in peace and quiet.
Your children no longer seem to have friends they speak to – at least not ones you get to hear any of the communication with. Your daughter just got a text marriage proposal from her boyfriend who is traveling in India, and your middle-schooler thinks that it is OK to text you vs. call you to check in – your job is to be tied to the screen of your phone. However, the upcoming generation has used more text minutes than you and your spouse share in voice minutes. And revenue from text messaging alone is expected to grow over 15 percent in 2008 to $70.45 billion, up from $60.85 billion in 2007. In other words, it is here to stay.
What does this mean for you and your business? Most of us have come to realize that technology is something we cannot live without. The Internet has allowed business to go global, and reach several markets easily and effectively. E-mail has given us the opportunity to communicate at any time among colleagues and friends, or family for that matter, and, I might add, not have to actually speak to anyone live.
Webinars and videos can be watched in the privacy of our home offices at all odd hours, letting us take classes, seminars and even attend church remotely. Virtual weddings and baptisms are next, I am guessing. Soon we will never have to leave the compound or speak to a stranger again. Has this made life better? Easier? How about more effective – or less? Just how much multi-tasking can one fit into a 24-hour day? The Metrolink train crash results speak pretty loudly and sadly.
There appears to be a need and purpose for such technology, and there are times we cannot imagine not having such options easily available at our fingertips to reach out and communicate. I am just not so sure that it is always the best way to do so, and I hardly think it replaces or minimizes the significance of actually picking up a phone or having a meeting eye to eye, belly to belly with our prospective clients, customers and colleagues. Could we be abusing this privilege at times to avoid dealing with building and maintaining the relationships that we need to nurture in order to not just survive, but thrive, in both our businesses and personal lives? Where do we draw the line?
We have all received or sent the e-mail that was misinterpreted or taken personally. When communication has been proven to be 87 percent nonverbal, how long does it take to figure out that some things need old-fashioned communication to hear the tone and see the response? Perhaps we need a new Emily Post book on “The Etiquette and Manners of Electronic Relationships.” Or “Electronic Relationships for Dummies.” Am I on to something here? Will the next generation recognize that the offer of one’s hand is for what we now call a handshake? Or will the increase in carpel tunnel syndrome from texting, typing and gaming rise to a level where the Velcro from our hand braces will only get in the way of actual personal contact? How will all this technology affect our ability or our grandchildren’s to relate to and understand one another? It would appear all of it was invented to make our lives easier and simpler, but has it?
If this is not enough, there is always time to read or write a blog or two, and be sure to update profiles and answer invites to various social networks now online for both business and personal. Being “Linked-In,” after all, is what it’s all about. Right?