Digital networking is fast becoming the silent killer of actual face to face communication.
This is a topic as old as the internet (at time of writing this post that’s approx 26 years old).
Sceptics warned us yet we (the tech lovers) forged ahead and rightly so. Nothing remains static… Right!
There are now 5 billion smart devices out there at the moment and more people own a device that own a tooth brush (errgh I find that stat a tad gross).
A mere 20 years ago only the very well off, owned a mobile phone and yep, they were the bees nees…with those black plastic bricks weighing them down… but look back now at those bricks with their pull up aerials that could not even sent a simple text message and we all scoff.
In the last 1000 weeks the world and how we interact has change completely.
Nowadays we interact with far more people and have daily interactions with people in the far corners of the earth. We can even tweet the international space station.
That’s pretty cool so why is it that the majority of device users suffer from some degree of ‘device loneliness’?
Ok I’m generalising a bit here but your average smart device user will find it almost impossible to be alone in their own company for even a short length of time without reaching for their device to comfort them.
‘We’ have evolved from face to face interactions, having meaningful emotional conversations that bonded us… to making calls to have a quick chat and having a feeling or emotion about that chat… to needed to feel something so we reach for our device to fulfill that void.
The device has become our artificial companion, the latest upgrade to Apple’s operating system (coming in iOS 11) will make Siri more ‘human-like’, more conversational. Some will see this as a great development and to some extent myself included. Those who know me will be aware I’m a bit of a self confessed Apple slave.
Siri, ‘will you marry me?’
I may well be counting down the days for that upgrade so Siri can be more useful to me (I use Siri to do quite a lot and find it helpful) But in some parts the world, digital companionships have taken over real life relationships so much so, that some humans now have full time very serious relationships with a digital character… Don’t believe me watch the first episode of ‘Dark Net – Crush‘
So why am I writing about this?
Well I have come across quite a few companies who have moved through the process of embracing internal communications as a business essential and are now using those IC teams to land the company’s ‘Digital Transformation‘ as future proofing the company by ensuring it has the future ready platforms. That is an important and essential development for businesses who are looking ahead and beginning to prepare for a ‘digital generation’.
But are companies equally pushing real face to face interactions too? Not really.
The digital generation
Children born in the 2000’s onwards, have grown with smart technology and can master almost any device in an instant. They have learnt to code as a staple of the national curriculum.
This generation will very soon inherit our ‘future proofed’ businesses and be at the helm. So what is wrong with that?
In the entire history of humans all personal development prior to technology was that of manual physical skills and the art of conversation has always been essential. Now we have generations (young and old) who are upskilling digitally and this technological upskilling is making us less and less emotive.
Fewer and fewer desire real face to face interactions and instead favour communicating through screens. This generation, has grown with the ability and need to filter everything before allowing other to view it. Editing, rewriting and condensing what they say or show to each other and the more this happens the more terrifying LIVE unedited, raw conversation becomes.
Sherry Turkle delivers a fantastic and enlightening Ted Talk titled ‘Connected, but alone?‘ that expands of the isolation felt by digitally connected.
The connected generation nowadays shy away from that unedited interaction for fear of imperfection, lack of control and that is a real problem!
Will we eventually lose the power of speech altogether in generations to come?
The digital not working death!
It is my firm belief that businesses who neglect face to face ‘in person’ methods of communication will fall foul to a ‘digital notworking‘ death.
Let’s face it
It is the Internal Communications practioner’s role to embrace new technology and ask employees to embrace it. But it is imperative that we also embrace, support, encourage and facilitate ‘Face to Face’ interactions and networking as an essential channel of business.