Modern technology is advancing by leaps and bounds.
While this rapid development benefits us in many ways, it also comes with a fair share of negatives. Namely, humans are social animals. Our mass cultural embrace of tech is a momentous and multifaceted phenomenon.
It impacts the way we relate to friends, family, and society at large.
New modes of interaction and channels of communication now rival good old face-to-face conversations. Various hands-on aspects of life are governed with a few taps on the screen.
This is a brave new landscape teeming with ambivalent implications of technology. At VP Legacies, our eLearning courses are unique in their emphasis on Personal Connection®. With our expertise on true engagement, we’ll give you some insight about the effects of technology on Personal Connection®.
Are We Slowly Losing Personal Connection?
The technology significantly augments human capabilities.
It also causes a massive shift in how people behave and perceive each other.
They walk the busy streets like zombies, with their eyes glued to the screen. Tourists snap photos of sites instead of truly appreciating the spectacle. Workers send messages to their colleagues, who are in the same office building.
Notifications remind us of important duties, but also disrupt our ability to be “in the moment.” We often feel more isolated and detached, despite being more digitally interconnected. Smartphones are immensely powerful tools and still remain underutilized or misused.
These findings echo a real paradox at the epicenter of the tech revolution.
But other times, no.
As you’ll see, technology has the potential to enhance Personal Connection®, especially when it’s our only way to interact with others. As more communities practice social distancing and begin to work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we must find ways to interact with our coworkers from home and keep personal connections strong even if we can physically see our friends.
Find out how to personally connect in the midst of a global pandemic in Personal Connection’s latest course.
Assessing the Good Implications of Technology
Keeping in touch despite geographical distance
Technology transcends vast geographical distances and demolishes other physical barriers.
Nowadays, we can choose between phone calls, chat sessions, video conferences, and email exchanges. This digital interaction is the next best thing to being in the actual presence of someone.
Feeling like part of a group
Group membership and one-on-one communication give us a sense of meaning and purpose. We engage with a more diverse set of people than previously possible, keeping in touch with organization members online when we can’t see them in person and engaging with remote or distant employees via the internet.
And connections only breed more connections. The whole matrix of social ties spans the globe and this comes with even more benefits, like social support, professional development opportunities, and new friends.
There’s no better time to lean on technology to help us make and maintain personal connections in and out of work. Many people around the world have found themselves working remotely due to the spread of the coronavirus, with cases doubling every eight days throughout the world. Without offices and boardrooms, it can begin to feel like you’re disconnected from your coworkers — and even the work itself. A lot of us are used to weekly – or even daily – meetings, where teams gather together to discuss projects face-to-face.
To stay motivated at work, you need to strengthen your team’s personal connections. Check out our newest course, How to Personally Connect in the Midst of a Global Pandemic, to find out the key to keeping your team strong and your work efficient.
The ability to gather is also important outside of work, with friends often getting together for board game nights or to grab drinks at the bar. Unfortunately, most states in America have declared that bars, movie theaters and restaurants are closed to help us practice social distancing. The president also advised that people not hold gatherings above 10, limiting a lot of activities and celebrations. While we know it’s for the best, it can still make us feel isolated amidst all of these canceled plans.
Building personal connections can help us not feel alone. Even if we’re physically alone in our homes — aside from our pets and toilet paper — we can still feel like part of a group when we build these connections with friends and family, making our bonds with them even stronger even if we’re not physically close for the time being. One can only binge Netflix for so long before they crave these kinds of connections.
Innovative ways to learn
Technology breathes new life into the education sector.
We’re witnessing the rise of new ways of learning. Most notably, eLearning and microlearning are two trends shaping the present and future of education. They’ve opened up new possibilities and lowered the barriers to entry.
With apps and laptops, students can tune in and access resources from anywhere they want. And this isn’t limited to young students, but to older learners as well. Businesses have latched on to eLearning and microlearning as ways to provide training and ongoing learning opportunities to their employees. This gives them flexibility and shows employees that their employers are excited to invest in their professional futures.
These technological advances have made it possible for classes to be held online. That is what many teachers are now implementing as schools continue to be locked down for the weeks to come. While completing assignments from home is one thing, it’s that connection with your teachers and fellow students that help recreate a classroom successfully in the digital space. Maintaining those personal connections to your classrooms is much more motivating than completing tasks alone in your room.
Multiple ways of engagement
Technology is far from a mere distraction or a necessary evil. Its interactivity spurs engagement, speeds up the learning process, and makes it more fun and collaborative too.
It’s a clear win-win for both students and teachers.
The Bad News
Pressure to be liked
In the virtual prestige economy, people are under tremendous pressure to be liked.
Social media has brought forth an unprecedented level of exposure to both friends and strangers alike. It enabled social comparison and validation to reach a fever pitch.
Fear of missing out, or FOMO, and yearning for recognition are keeping us from jumping off the bandwagon. We seek to amass likes and friends rather than nurture meaningful relationships. We let algorithms choose who we should befriend and date.
Taking the easy way out
It’s always possible to take the easy way out and utilize technology as a means of escapism. Why not simply stay at home, surrounded by all the gadgets?
Indeed, the grim reality is far less inviting than the digital mirage we’re immersed in. And that’s where trouble is—substituting real activities for cyber counterparts.
Or to put it differently, we run into dangers when we confuse emojis for genuine emotions.
Somewhere in Limbo
Some implications of technology fall somewhere in between the good and the bad.
Lightning-fast, instantaneous communication facilitates connections. At the same time, people put in less effort and thought into relationships. Instead of enhancing these relationships, technology can end up hindering our ability to form real Personal Connection®.
On a brighter note, we’re staying in touch and letting others know about what’s happening in our lives. Not only that, but you can find heaps of groups of like-minded people with similar interests.
Yet we lack positive social support true friends can give. This is because our real-life networks shrink, meaning we have fewer close confidants and friends.
Sadly, we can also experience rejection, cyberbullying, and trolling online. This negativity inevitably undermines our self-esteem and mental well-being.
With technology, eLearners, microlearners, and anyone just browsing the web has a wealth of information immediately at their fingertips. In a way, this means knowledge is more accessible. But at the same time, this makes it incredibly difficult to sort through information that at first glance seems equally useful. It takes a little bit of internet savvy to weed through credible sources and unreliable fluff.
Everything is at our fingertips, including valuable resources, expert insights, and useful life hacks. Big data fuels the global economy and the Internet of Things generates ever new streams of it. Cutting-edge algorithms already know us better than we know ourselves. They recommend products and services we’re in need of.
Alas, this comes at a steeper price—compromised data security, privacy, and integrity. Many users don’t even know who owns and uses their private information. Each connected device is prone to hacker attacks and other risks.
This easy access to information also comes with the risk of being ill-informed. People may have noticed that happening quite a bit as their friends and family members share articles about the COVID-19 virus on Facebook and forward links to emails. It’s hard to know which data is accurate and which source is the most reliable. Which is just meant to get clicks and cause panic? Which is meant to inform and educate?
There are some positive developments in regulation, such as GDPR. But to foster a safer environment for everyone, more business organizations need to spearhead consumer data safety.
Reaching the Verdict
The takeaway to draw from all this is clear.
We must learn to look at but also past the screen galore. The real person is on the other side of the desk or maybe thousands of miles away.
There’s no need to surrender control and put all life functions on auto-pilot. Yes, it makes sense to automate some tedious and repetitive processes. Business automation is a prime example of it.
However, we ought to remember that data doesn’t faithfully represent the world around us. Digital communication lacks intimacy and immediacy of a real Personal Connection®.
Only through our five senses, autonomous decisions, and direct experience can we truly get to know ourselves and others. When technology empowers us in this quest, it’s a more than a welcome companion.
Killing Our Connections Softly
The implications of technology come in all shapes and forms: the good, the bad, and the in-between.
We’re able to instantly connect with anyone and tap into a wealth of information at a moment’s notice. The diversity and number of connections have never been greater.
But technology also alters the structure of our social relationships.
We succumb to the temptation to compare ourselves to idealized images of others. We’re guilty of forgoing companionship of people in favor of gadgets.
This goes to show technology is a tool we have to wield carefully. We can use it as a scaffold to reach places we couldn’t before, especially as a tool to supplement real Personal Connection®. But without in-person effort and willingness to do emotional labor, these virtual connections are fleeting.
In case you need some communication tips from experts, take a look at our Personal Connection® 101 course. In it, you’ll learn how to connect with friends and people you don’t know in real life, turning brief encounters into something more. And, you’ll learn more about the role technology plays and how you can use it to your advantage. You’ll also gain access to our Office Hours, where we’ll give even more insight every week.