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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Quality of a "teching"

The Quality of a "Teching"

How the times are a changing....

Overhead the other day of a young girl to an older friend:

"Oh? You still use that slow, old fashioned "snail" email, rather than simply "texting" someone?"

Sigh...."snail" EMAIL!?

And so it goes. Nothing stays the same. Does it? Technology moves on faster than you can keep up with it. And society moves right along in its wake.

In mentioning the above conversation recently to someone, it led inevitably to the question: is the quality of communications greater with enhanced connectivity, or is it simply more shallow?

The argument rages on. Some feel that with the increased degree of isolation in our environment, people are becoming less people oriented and more technology or "tech" oriented.

"We're simply losing touch with one another." That's the comment I hear most.

Still others say that actually, because of these increased communications capabilities we're now even more in touch with one another than ever before in the history of Humankind. In part, I think it depends on what cohort you are presenting this topic to. The younger, fourteen to twenty-four year olds; the twenty-five to forty year olds; or those yet more mature than that; they all have differing orientations. Obviously.

Think about it. Do YOU "tech" anyone? Do you "text" anyone for instance? Something that was for a while called "texting someone", could more aptly now be called "teching someone". After all, there are more than just text messages passing over the wireless and wired pathways that we are forever now swimming in.

You can of course email someone, or you can text them. But you can also now photo them, video them, audio (the old standard: voicemail). I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't yet other forms of information conveyance that I've yet to hear of. Wait until you hear that someone had "DNA'd" someone, that will be a turning point, I assure you.

Getting back to it, whenever "teching" someone, is it the numerical increase in communications that increases the quality of the interaction with that person; even as the shallowness of each individual communication decreases?

Perhaps there a theorem to be had here.

"As the numerical communications increase, so the quality of each individual communication decreases, proportionately."

Or conversely:

"As the quality of each individual communication decreases, the number of communications has to increase, proportionately."

I find that each communication I have, say a text message to my almost twenty year old son, might be one where I say something like, "Hey, when are you headed home?" Worse still, in order to save space, it could have been more like "when r u headed H?" or, "whats ur eta?" Not very deep, I admit. But fast, easy, and functional as we've built and understand the same lexicon over time.

However, his response might be, "within the hour" or, "shortly". The communication may end there. Consider that in this, I had queried my interest, he in turn had answered succinctly. Otherwise, I would have called him and verbally asked him, then he would have responded. We would have spent some time with hello, how you doing, etc., following an ingrained, patterned interactional format for phone intercourse work.

Whereas, in the text scenario it was quicker, more to the point, and we could quickly move on in our busy day, almost not even breaking a stride on whatever we were doing at the time just prior to the initiation of the communication.

On the other hand, we actually do spend more time teching each other: sending pictures, bantering, kidding each other; sharing information such as, "hey, saw a cool movie, you should check it out, its called The Man From Earth" (on Verizon, you can send long messages if you're both "in network").

And so he responds, "Cool".

He now has a new movie to check out, and he has a record of its title on his phone; he knows that I think enough of him to have shared the information with him; he responded with an acknowledgment that indicates to me his acceptance of that information and a possible promise to check it out; and he exhibits an appreciation of my care for him, as well indicating his appreciation for that attention. On top of that, we both now know about it, whereas in previous to digital technology years, I most likely would have forgotten to ever mention it to him.

So, is it possible that in this finite and brief communication, there really is more going on than at first seems obvious? That these detached, shallow individual communications, really are an indicator of much care for one another? Isn't it said that a picture is worth a thousand words? What does that say when someone cares enough about you, to send you a digital image of something they just shot on their cell phone? Like once again, my son, sending me an image of his girlfriend's car, when she had over shot a turn on our dirt road, spinning into a ditch (no one was harmed, other than her pride and some of the body work).

Maybe, just maybe all this "teching" to one another isn't leaving us to be so isolated and detached after all. In a world that puts us so physically unavailable to one another, so busy, isn't it just possible that it actually is bringing us much closer together? Helping us to maintain much closer ties with friends and loved ones, and a helping us to build tighter bonds than would have ever before been possible?

Think about it. Then "tech" about it to a friend of yours and see what they have to say.

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