The Long & Winding Road: Antisocial social?

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“Dad, tell me what it was like when you were know before they had the internet” said my son as we drove to his athletics training.

Wow, here I was feeling pretty good about myself in terms of fitness and vitality and my son is asking me questions I associate with trips around a museum. It dawned on me that there are many of us currently using the digital world every day who, 30 years ago, had never conceived of it as an idea or possibility. I realised that I had witnessed the birth of a truly remarkable technological event which , in the fullness of time , will be compared to the Industrial Revolution.

My son cannot imagine a world where one had to use a public payphone to call people when out of the home, a world where a first class stamp on a hand-written letter was the fastest method of written communication outside of the telegram. In my university days , I was quite the cool dude because I had a fax machine. Today’s young people serenade themselves via earbuds plugged into all manner of smartphones, instant message each other and view millions of hours of YouTube videos as a matter of course.

If , like me, you find such realisations sobering , you are not alone. Whilst I was musing to myself about how fast things have developed and how slow life was back then a startling thing happened. My son turned to me and said … ” You know dad, I kinda wish I had grown up in your time”  After quickly picking my jaw up from the footwell of the car I asked “ Why so?”

His answer has rented a room in my head ever since he said it…” I think my generation is missing a whole lot. We might be able to talk to people all over the world, have lots of Facebook friends but it doesn’t really count, does it?” “ What do you mean , ‘count’ ” , I said

He replied, “ We don’t get to see the whites of people’s eyes, we don’t really learn how to communicate on a personal level.. we just throw out ideas and comments and never get anything really useful back. Your generation knows how to chat to people and meet them and make real friends”

Needless to say the remainder of the car journey was somewhat quiet, I needed time to filter his thoughts and see if he had a point. Talk about ‘out of the mouths of babes’!

When all is said and done, it is the people who make or break a business or anything else for that matter. Technology is only an alternative for the real thing. Like Christmas cards being introduced in Victorian England to contact those whom we knew we would not see over the holiday were only an alternative to the real thing. How many of us send and receive cards for holidays from people we see every day? Mad , isn’t it?

Social may actually be anti-social if it is the default method of communication. Human contact is the driver and motivator in all things, if it wasn’t we would not isolate people to punish them. So when you next sit down and ‘do your social media stuff’ stop a moment and ask yourself this question; ‘ are there any people on this list who would benefit from a phone call or actually meeting in person , just to show them I care?’

see you on the long and winding road…… Patrick

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