I was driving home the other night and I flipped to a radio station with John Tesh on. I know he is kind of corny, new age-y sometimes, but I enjoy listening to his show. This particular evening he was talking about a new field of study in the world of psychology. This is the second time I have heard this, so it must have some validity to it. Apparently, psychologists are starting to study the effects of all the technology around us on our social behavior. I know, I know, you've heard it before. Texting, Facebook blah, blah blah...
But wait, I swear there was something new and interesting this time. He was talking about something they are calling "social autism". It's basically an inability to actually be with someone and be fully present to them. You can see it all around you...or maybe you do it yourself: texting in the middle of a conversation, carrying your phone EVERYWHERE and even talking to your spouse through technological means while in the same house! We literally are losing the ability to be fully present to anyone at anytime with out the interruption of technology.
He went on to talk about the loss of "quiet moments". You know, the ride up the elevator, the waiting room in the doctors office or the drive to work; moments where we used to just simply be. Turns out these moments are pretty important. Apparently, in these moments our brains sort of re-set and allow us to gather ourselves and continue through the day. Now, especially with those great new phones that do everything but drive your car, every single moment of our day is filled. That 10 second ride up the elevator is now an opportunity to post a quick status update. Waiting for a plane in the airport is now a place to get work done, not meet the person next to you. What are the consequences of these actions? I think they may be a lot bigger than we all think.
Next time you are on the elevator, be a trend setter, and don't take your phone out. Try talking to the people around you at the airport (if you can find one not on a computer). Try intentionally seeking out the quiet moments, even if they are only for a few seconds. The future of human communication depends on it.
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