Technology has helped us all in many ways. On a business level we find day to day work is done more efficiently, international communication has become part of the norm, and money is exchanged through the click of a button. On a personal level we find it is easier to keep in touch with family, friends, and acquaintances from all walks of life, answers to our toughest questions are just a Google search away, regular tasks have become much more convenient, and even meeting people is easier with the boom of online dating.
The growth of new technology is not slowing down anytime soon, and the world will be operating a lot differently 20 years from now – the world where our children will be living and working. Outside of social media and business operations, continuing advancements will help cure diseases and improve overall quality of life. However, with all of these improvements I feel as though we are allowing technology to take away from the lives we live today.
I recently read an article, 30 Things Babies Born in 2011 Will Never Know, and found myself wondering if we are creating a world where future generations will be cheated out of the little things that make life worth living. The author, Stacey Johnson, mentions some older technologies that will simply be replaced or become obsolete – CDs, video tapes, wired phones and phone books – most of which are things we already see as unnecessary. Johnson also mentions things like the death of the written word and framed photos. As you read through each of the items listed, it sounds like we are creating a world of workaholics who will never stop to appreciate life.
After thinking this over, I realized that I am guilty of allowing the conveniences of technology to distract me from writing an actual letter instead of an email, getting on a treadmill instead of walking outside, relying too heavily on my GPS instead of trusting myself to get lost and finding my own way home. Yes I have over 500 friends on Facebook, but I have lost my personal connection to most of them because I rely too heavily on my phone or my laptop to provide a virtual environment that replaces the face-to-face interaction.
I have a feeling I am not the only one guilty of these habits.
This behavior trickles over into professional life as well. We are losing personal interaction with co-workers, business partners and customers. Face-to-face meetings are replaced by email and phone conferences, webinars are replacing seminars, virtual events are growing fast, and customer service is being replaced by recordings and prompts.
Even with all of the conveniences technology provides people appreciate the little things that make them feel like they are being treated like a person. We all appreciate getting an actual invite, thank you or holiday greeting card in the mail because it takes a little more effort. We are more productive during in-person meetings because we all feed off the energy and non-verbal queues of the other people in the room.
20 years from now there will be a lot of automated services, and tasks will be easier to complete. Business processes will be more streamlined, and businesses overall will operate more proficiently. Some conveniences we have today will be seen as irrelevant and likely replaced. That being said, we all need to take responsibility for making sure we appreciate the importance of a written note or a phone call, and we complete tasks on our own that don’t need to be made easier just for the sake of having it done for us. In our personal and professional lives we have to take responsibility for maintaining relationships, and not relying on technology to do it for us.
For the sake of the babies born in 2011, I hope innovation is the way of the world. And I hope that world also appreciates a personal touch.
It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity. – Albert Einstein