Face to Face

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August 22, 2010

Let’s face it, we all use tech­nol­ogy. The fact that we’re read­ing from oth­ers on a blog is evi­dence to that fact. Jeanette and I use email as our pri­mary com­mu­ni­ca­tion method. It’s quick. It allows peo­ple to respond on their own time. And it doesn’t inter­rupt life the way a phone (espe­cially a cell phone) does. As we’re get­ting used to all this tech­nol­ogy, many peo­ple of older gen­er­a­tions (mine included) are opposed to some of the move­ments among the younger crowd. Tex­ting, face­book­ing, etc. They scare us. “It’ll reduce face-to-face inter­ac­tion,” we say. “They’ll spend all their time in front of a screen,” we add. And it’s prob­a­bly true — we’re spend­ing more and more time in front of screens. “We didn’t spend that much time watch­ing TV,” some would say. But the plethora of con­tent on TV and the myr­iad of infor­ma­tion avail­able on the inter­net really makes that point irrel­e­vant. There wasn’t all that much to see on TV back then. Now there is. And at first the inter­net wasn’t all that great either. Now it is.

And now those con­ve­niences can fit in our pockets.

I have no doubt that the level of face-to-face inter­ac­tions has gone down over the past fifty years. But the other day I had a thought — when the phone was intro­duced, what were the ini­tial reac­tions? I can’t know for sure, but I can ven­ture a guess: “It’ll be a time-saver,” would say the opti­mists. “It’ll limit inter­ac­tion,” would say the pes­simists. I have no doubt it did both. With each tech­no­log­i­cal shift comes a back­lash. From face-to-face we went to phones. Before that we had mail. Each time we lose a dimen­sion of the con­ver­sa­tion. With phone we lost the facial expres­sions. With let­ters we lost the tones, pitch, and empha­sis of the human voice. With our cur­rent tech­nol­ogy, we still lack the nec­es­sary dimen­sions to have a full con­ver­sa­tion. Any­one try­ing to sort a prob­lem out through email knows what I’m talk­ing about.

At the same time, the phone and let­ter did not destroy human inter­ac­tion. Email cer­tainly hasn’t. Face­book won’t. Tex­ting is inca­pable. We don’t need to be so afraid of these tran­si­tions. Peo­ple will always need human inter­ac­tion. No screen can replace that. The changes in tech­nol­ogy are com­ing at a faster rate, and at some point we’ll all find our­selves a lit­tle behind the curve. If that’s the case, don’t fret! Human inter­ac­tions will always rely on face-to-face relationships.

Tak­ing Heart,

Paul Loewen

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