A Picture is Worth…

I love my smart phone/laptop/iPad . But, again I find myself struggling with technology or, more precisely, our need for it. Our latest generation of personal devices (by which you all immediately know I am talking about cell phones, laptops, iPads and other tablets) are generally including the ability to video chat. I point out your immediate understanding of the term “personal device”, only because 25 years ago that could have really only been one thing. And hopefully, your Mom kept that well hidden in her sock drawer.

I agree that there has been a steady move away from true human interaction. Over the years our business experience with communication technology has pushed faxing, email, texting, and mass communication into our personal lives as time savers. And surely that has come at the cost of truly connecting with people. As the person who manages a business web site, Face Book page, online media, etc., I get it. I understand the masses I can reach with these less personal methods. But I also remember the days of being a salesman on the road and having that personal connection with everyone I met, much less the customers that were making my success. I have had online meetings with fellow employees or closed major contracts without ever meeting the person on the other end. And this works because you have a conversation.

No matter how articulate your content or how flashy the images are, an image or written word cannot carry the connection of the human voice. What is conveyed in our grammar, intonation, word choice, and other non-verbal expressions like laughing or pausing is our true human emotion and who we are. That is where and how we connect with someone we have never met. You connect through a shared understanding, view, joy, story, sorrow, need, interest, or whatever. This shared thing can be put into writing, but it is the emotion of your voices that have made a personal connection. Of course, if you were to meet, you would then have a visual representation of this person whom you already know. If you have been “sexting”, maybe we are advancing passed this step in the future, too. But, you would agree the connection is the conversation.

And…  we are back to video chatting. If any of the above rings true, what is the need for this? I like to work under the assumption that, regardless of the device or method, if you are speaking with me you are alive. I am also going to assume you are dressed. This does not mean I haven’t pictured people on the other end of my conversations naked, it just means that, at the moment, they really are dressed. That being said, I don’t care what they are wearing. I will give them the benefit that their desk, office, home, apartment, or whatever makes it into the background is clean, tidy, and appropriate. I will picture them neatly groomed on a good hair day, smiling and happy.  I will give the benefit of the doubt in all areas, and simply ask the same in return.

I will continue to sit here in my PJs, three days of beard and bed head, messy desk, and dirty apartment, while I verbally connect and communicate with my employer, clients, family, and friends. If you give me the benefit of the doubt, you will be correct on many occasions. But if I have to get dressed to make you right on every occasion….it probably means you are going to video chat voice mail.

© 2012  Commonsensibly Speaking ~ Brad Osborne

One Response to “A Picture is Worth…”
  1. melanie says:

    No argument from me…i’m jealous you can work in your pj’s.

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