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Are You Too “Plugged In?”

UNPLUG AND RECONNECT

Technology provides us with a plethora of opportunities to reach out and touch someone. We are able to connect or reconnect with family, old friends, business colleagues and classmates. But the irony is that being “plugged in” has at times caused us to tune out, and this can seriously threaten our ability to truly connect at an emotional level with another human being.

“To the extent that technology absorbs people in a virtual reality, it deadens them to those who are actually nearby. The resulting social autism adds to the ongoing list of unintended human consequences brought on by the continuing invasion of technology into our daily lives.”

– Daniel Goleman

The examples of technology run amok are countless. Think of all the interruptions we encounter on any given day – the cell phone, pagers, internet browsing, television, e-mails, blackberries, and i-pads just to name a few. In fact, sometimes this wireless technology can be off-putting; recently I inadvertently interrupted someone who was on the phone (one of those slick wireless jobbies). The individual was wearing a wireless headset and was listening, but not talking to the person on the other end. Thinking that he was not on the phone, and waiting to be engaged by me, I made a request, only to be interrupted by a polite, but clear gesture that said “hold your horses, buddy.” Slightly embarrassed and taken aback by this experience, I have been very careful as to how I engage this person in subsequent meetings.

Now, I recognize that this involves some of my own beliefs systems that may need to shift, but I do think its worthwhile to consider how technology may affecting your ability to connect with people and strengthen relationships. How often do we prevent our human radar (emotions and intuition) from picking up signals because we are preoccupied with this other technology? Are your e-mails terse and potentially offensive? Do you find yourself sending e-mails more often than picking up the phone or meeting face-to-face?

My point here is not to judge this behavior, but simply to help you notice it, embrace it, and possibly modify these habits to focus on making stronger human connections.

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