Points to Ponder while using Electronic Technology for Communicating
By Janet Wolcott PharmD, CPC, ELI-MP, CDTS
How has technology changed our ways of communicating? What thoughts should we be aware of for using technology for communication?
Today we have smart phones and can be reached almost anywhere at any time of the day. We have access to almost anything in the world we want at our fingertips. Want to see what’s going on in the world it’s a click or swipe away. A volcano erupts in Hawaii and the entire world knows in minutes. We can be in a meeting or sitting on the couch watching TV and texting 5 people at the same time. If we want to purchase something, we can look it up, review it, put it in our shopping cart and have delivered to the house in less than 24 hours. We can Skype or Zoom and see multiple people during the conversation at the same time, share screens and information instantly. Last night I was able to look up a restaurant, review the menu, make a dinner reservation, view photos of the building, figure out the drive time, cost for parking, and research any road construction all while standing in my kitchen.
Considerations: So, is there a downside to all this technology and it’s uses? Are there things we would do best to take into consideration when using this wonderful technology? Are there times we might consider picking up the phone and speaking with someone versus texting them? Has texting given us an easy way of communicating? Instead of having an awkward conversation, just text someone the news, good or bad? Is there potential for poor communication and negative outcomes that may not have been intended? A family member sent a text to inform everyone a relative had died. The family member signed the texts sent with a LOL and their name. Family members became very upset and could not believe the family member ended the text with LOL. The LOL which many of us know to mean Laugh out Loud this family member thought it meant Lots of Love.
What are things we would benefit from taking into consideration with all this technology?
- What times are appropriate to text/ email and when should other forms of communication be considered?
We use texting / emailing as a daily form of communication, between family members, colleagues, friends, etc. Texting places words on a screen and provides information, such as where to meet, who is picking who up, sending a photograph of a happening, and many more. May text with significant other throughout the day about dinner or friends about which movie we are going to see and where. All easy general conversations.
Other conversations texting / emailing may not be the best way of communicating. These are written words and emotions or tones in voices that cannot be heard through written communication. People interpret the feelings and emotions they thing they are perceiving in a written communication and have the potential to cause harm or negative energy. We may want to actually call someone versus text or email on things that have potential for multiple interpretations. We also sometimes feel freer to say something in a written communication then what we would say over the phone. Going with the thought if I am uncomfortable in saying it, you may want to reconsider emailing / texting it. If you feel that you cannot come up with the right words and feel putting things in written language us a better way to go, then consider being present when the person reads it. Think before you send someone a written communication about the potential consequences of the interpretation. How many relationships have ended, or fights have occurred between individuals based on what they preceded the written communications meanings? How many arguments hurt feelings could be avoided but simple verbal versus written communication.
- Do we need to be reachable 24 hours a day? How many of us use are phones as alarm clocks in the morning and immediately pick it up and review social media, news, emails, or texts? Are we excited to review or is it fear we are going to miss something happening and don’t want to be the one who doesn’t know what is going on at this current second in time? When we leave work for the day, our electronic devices keep us connected. We are checking emails at 10 pm and answering people and thinking about events at the office/ PTO/sporting activities etc. There now is no separation, why is this important? Are we back to fear that we will miss something, someone will get an opportunity we will not? We want to be ahead of the guy next to us. So, are we focusing/ enjoying the current moment we are in? Or are we focused on someone else’s activities / life? How many people are on their electronic device while sitting in bed? Playing a game, checking social media, etc. instead of either talking with your partner, or just going to sleep? What advantage does the electronic device offer you over conversation with a partner, child or potentially having a good night sleep?
If we are constantly connected and looking at activities are, we truly living in the moment and being present with what is currently happening in our own lives? What potential conversations are you missing out on, when you are attached to your technology and not just being in that moment? When sitting at home, is your family/ friends /significant others having conversations, playing a board game, watching a movie together or all on different pieces of electronics doing their own thing? Do you all even need to be in the same house?
How would your life be if you turn off your electronic devices for a period of time each day? What would you lose or gain by turning off electronics at a certain time – no devices during meals / restaurants; no devices in bed or night stand (you might have to purchase an alarm clock or set up Google or Alexa to wake you up). What happens if you don’t answer emails after a designated time daily? At first there may be some fear what I will miss out on but think about the potential of what you could gain. No longer worried about what is going on in the world, the story will still be there in a few hours. Is anything that is occurring right now going to change your life that you need to be attached to it every second, in all reality probably not.
Take the chance, separate from it for short periods of time and see how you do. You may be surprised about how much more you enjoy being in that moment and time, maybe even be more focused on the book your reading, the company you are keeping, or even gain a more in-depth understanding of the movie you may be watching. You might even wake up more refreshed in the morning and able to sleep better. Maybe enhance relationships and improve communications when we actually have verbal conversations.
- Social Media – what is its purpose? What is your goal when using it or viewing it?
Almost all of us have some form or multiple forms of social media, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc. This is a great way to again communicate 24 hours a day with people all over the world. Also, assist in developing business’s, sharing ideas, and making connections that could enhance both your personal and professional life. Able to ask for a recommendation for a service, share health information, build communities. How easy was it to gain funds for the disastrous fires in Australia through using social media?
So, is there a downside and if so, what is it? Social media opens us up to hours of stimulus and following other people’s lives, do we sometimes get so tied up in others that we aren’t living ours? How many times have you said I’m just going to glance and next thing you know you have spent over an hour reviewing happenings in everyone else’s lives? People are sharing a split second of their life and how many interpretations of their life are you making in that moment. What about the potential for bullying, stalking, a sex offender searching for potential victims, potential to get hacked, develop an addiction, scams, damage to reputation? As stated above the advantage to gain money to help with Australia’s wildfires and support for all the animals, how many people do you think sent money without checking into the site? How much money actually made it to the animal? Someone has a fight with their significant other and all of a sudden, their dirty laundry true or false is plastered on social media and their reputation damaged.
Social media has potential to provide entertainment, assist in communication and tasks, but at the same time it is good to remember the potential harm it can cause in our lives and truly the world.
Points to consider: do I really need to be connected 24 hours 7 days a week, what do I truly gain and what are my potential loses for this connection? What do I gain by disconnecting or putting down my electronic communication devices for periods of time? When I am ready to send written communication is this something, I was willing to say in person to the intended individual or group? Is this really a subject that I have the potential best outcome from a written form of communication versus a face to face or verbal communication. What role does social media have in my life, does this truly benefit me and make me a better person? Am I truly being me in this venue? Do I know how to make sure what I am viewing is actually real, not marketing, damaging someone reputation, or a way to scam me in one form or another? How does all of this fit into my life balance and well-being?