Do you talk with people anymore?
It seems that although the internet and social media have supposedly shrunk the world, they’ve also shrunk our interactions.
Everything has become transactional.
When was the last time you called someone to schedule a meeting? It’s much faster to coordinate through an instant message or email, right?
But here’s the problem. When you scheduled a meeting through email or messaging, you only schedule a meeting. There’s no opportunity to ask how your co-worker is doing. There’s no way to hear the happiness, frustration, or concern in his or her voice. It’s just a transaction.
The argument that I often hear is that it’s more efficient to schedule in this way. And, from a purely transactional perspective, that’s true.
But relationships aren’t about transactions.
Relationships are about connections.
That’s where, with all of our technology, we seem to be losing.
Think about your friends on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Are you really engaging them in meaningful connections? Or, are you just glimpsing one dimensional moments in their life or their thoughts? How much can you really connect in a comment box?
I’ve noticed a material difference in phone or in person conversations with friends compared to the “conversations” I have via some type of messenger program. You can’t go very deep one or two sentences at a time. You also can’t gain much context or perspective
And, it’s not just our transactions with our friends or co-workers that are suffering. So, are our connections with the world.
We can now order and obtain just about anything (including food), without ever coming into contact with another human.
Again, it might be more efficient, but is it more satisfying? Is it more meaningful?
I was recently reading about how some social media sites have been manipulated to create discord.
In retrospect, we should have seen that coming.
The technology that has allowed us to connect to the world has actually allowed us to shrink our view of the world.
Now, it’s easy to surround ourselves with people who only think like us, share similar experiences to us, and have common “enemies” to us. We no longer have to expose ourselves to other people’s views or share in their experiences.
The more we shrink our view of the world, the easier it becomes to sort others into “us” and “them” categories. And, the easier it is for people to exploit those categories and manipulate us for their own gain.
It’s time to rebuild a relational rather than a transactional world.
It’s time to get out and engage people.
Real connections don’t come through messages or comments on social media posts. Real connections come from actual shared experiences.
So, I’d encourage you to make a simple resolution in 2019. Start connecting with people for real.
TALK to your co-workers, even if just to schedule a meeting or request that they send you something. You’ll be amazed at how much you learn about them.
GO PLACES. Walk into a restaurant. Say hello to the person who is taking and delivering your order. Look around at the different people. You might be surprised to see that the woman in the hijab, the old white dude, the black family, and the woman with the cross necklace don’t seem so divided. Like you, they all just want to enjoy the company of their family and friends, have a good meal, and pursue a meaningful life. The more you see people who aren’t like you, the more you’ll realize that most people actually are like you.
ENGAGE your family and friends. Stop talking to them on-line and start talking to them for real. Ask them about their hopes and dreams. Share yours. Maybe even visit them in person!
I think the first step toward regaining civility and tolerance in our world, is to start actively engaging in it and more importantly with the people within it.
Social media and technology are great for executing transactions. But, they aren’t the best vehicles for creating relationships, connection, and understanding. That’s still best done in the real world.
I hope that 2019 brings you joy, happiness, fulfillment, and peace.
Brad Kolar is an executive consultant, speaker, and author with Avail Advisors. Avail helps leaders simplify their problems, decisions, data, and communication. Brad can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.