Category Archives: Technology

Living in the Shadow of Technology: Noise and Electronic Communication


lt is like living by the freeway and hearing the noise of traffic passing by– hour by hour– day by day.  The noise of the traffic, constant movement, telling the story that people are busy and that life is moving on, everyone traveling in their own direction, but where are they going?  To a charted direction, toward a destination of choice, to a reality created, the panacea of choice: Traffic constantly moving, what does it mean? Creating familiar sounds, the constant clatter of technology moving day and night describing meaning, declaring truth moving forward on a journey to somewhere, but where will it go, and what does it mean? Familiar sounds, which resonate a message, machinery moving, always going, traveling at the speed of sound, advancing electronic communication at its finest; but is the message communication between humans or just the clatter of technology?


What the Trends in Social Networking Reviews Suggests: Identity Crisis and Confusion

Infographic on how Social Media are being used...
Image via Wikipedia

What impact is social media, networking having upon relationships? The question is simple and the answers given are loaded with different opinions. Relationships are at the core of the discussion and reveal changing perceptions and an emergent paradigm developing. A quick Google search will reveal pages of links to web pages that offer opinions and suggestions.

Business is integrated into social relationship creating potential questions about efficacy in mixing business and pleasure. In a recent blog on Harvard Business Review , Jodi Glickman notes that young adults in the workplace are abandoning emails and moving toward social media as one of their primary modes of communication, Because social media is so, well, social, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred between business and personal matters. ( Thom Rainer) An important part of the question is connected with a sense of self, identity, and role expectations.

The shifting reliance upon social media and networking sites raises an important question about how we understand relationships and utilize boundaries in regulating relationships to create effective outcome in life. An answer to the question about measurable impact upon relationships that it is good, but also bad. Social media has become so commonplace many have a hard time even thinking how they’d live without it. “We’re getting reliant on Facebook to keep us updated,” said Malia Griggs, editor of the University of South Carolina‘s student magazine. Griggs wrote an article last year taking a satirical jab at how Facebook is changing the way we communicate. Personal relationships, she says, are now a matter of public discourse. “It’s less personal its less between you and that person, now there’s room for others to come in and comment on it,” said Griggs. “There’s a lot more room for feedback from your friends and people who aren’t even your close friends.” You can tap into it anywhere, anytime — an online existence so vast and absorbing, most offices have policies against it. Malia Griggs The impact upon the business-relationship dichotomy has paradoxical implications: While on the one hand enhancing market presence, providing technological convenience, a constant Internet “Brand” which is identifiable and available, at the same time blurring the lines between professional and personal identity. Potential danger is identified by Glickman (2011) in Harvard Business Review who said that, “with technological interchangeability comes risk—maintaining relationships with friends with whom you do business and keeping business out of the realm of your friendships.” This observation identifies questions about how and what will define relationships as well as what principles govern what is appropriate in each context.

There is a wealth of information that shows how relationships, networking, and connection have upon business. However how can you know when, “friendliness has become a liability” (Glickman)? One good sign is when what occurs in the private world is so indistinct that there not a clear understanding of how professional identity is different from personal identity. Private problems on public networks bring people into your personal life that may not be anticipated or wanted. Attorney David Shea said that “In divorce cases, it’s amazing how often we use this now … We’re on Facebook several times a day.”( Shea)

Private problems become public matters affecting, not only the perception that people have, but it has an  impact upon effectiveness that can make or break a career, a marriage–your life. Everyone needs good friends, but a missing boundary that is important is privacy: everyone does not have the right to know everything about you– ask whatever they want, especially about deeply personal matters that may prejudice perception when shared.

Two good points to be made are: Collaboration is Critical and Relationships are Important. ( Thom Rainer) However, there must be fundamental balance discovered about what boundaries should characterize the shifting emphasis from a solo voice to group voice—individual identity and group identity. Social networking is not going away and is certainly the most effective immutable principle that will predict life or death in the business world today. More research needs to be done and greater understanding gained will be integral to creating responsibility and balance that says about social networking, “I choose to learn from it and make the best of it’ (Rainer).

Can Change Have a Negative Impact on Relationships?

Changing of the Guard, Inaugration Day, Washin...
Image by Beverly & Pack via Flickr

In Gary Collins book The Search for the Soul, quotes Mother Teresa who was asked: what is the greatest problem that people in the world face?  Her reply was “loneliness.” At the same time the culture of today has been described a time of emptiness and spiritual hunger. In the loneliness and spiritual emptiness that is explicit within our modern culture another term has been used to characterize the outlook of people in modern America; pessimism. Is the cynicism of our age, widespread dissatisfaction with a culture that has embraced rationalism, obsession with technology, only to see increased evidence of war, violence, poverty–environmental pollution–the decline of spiritual influence–things are not getting better with all our technology, an indicator of the absence of distinctives beliefs that can empower hope that transcends, mere, things and provide significance to existence?

The existentialism of the modern world that has put so much emphasis on me and I resulted in a generation of people who are together every day, but we have become solitary islands in the masses of humanity and technology.  I recently posted on Facebook, “The hardest thing about being an island is the solitary existence of being alone against the elements. The islands stand alone, solitary and are hardened by circumstances, weather, and time. When the sun goes away and the storms bring the pounding surf and the ravaging winds, the island must stand alone because that is what islands do until they are washed away” (2010).  It is a painful and isolated position that many people in the world have arrived at, but have no destination in mind.  With all the text-messaging, posting on social networks, and twittering; while people are connected to so many people, they may still be disconnected from healthy, meaningful relationships with others that will bring an efficacious way of living.

One of the great problems that characterize existence today is that life is replete with narcissism and self focused interests. If a person wants to deal with the problem of loneliness and find spiritual answers, then having a meaningful relationship with another person is something that requires integrity, honesty, and willingness to get off the island. Maybe, what is needed is realizing that what is best for others may not be what is best for me and being okay with that. This is the place where an attitude of servant-hood begins. The greatest of all spiritual gifts is the expression of love that is given in a way that sacrifices what benefits me and gives what someone else needs. (1 Corinthians 13.)   The great paradox of today is that we have evolved with a great amount of intelligence and technology at our finger tips, but the basic communication skills of people are deficient when it comes to relating to others in ways that foster healthy outcomes.

Has the individualism of the 70’s that spawned humanism, the “Me” generation, the “Now” generation been more than can be absorbed and processed? Alvin Toffler wrote about the stress that too much change to quick has upon culture, “Future shock is the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in people by subjecting them to too much change in too short a time”.  It is implicit within the behavior cues that are demonstrated by the absence of effort to connect that there is the subtle deception that says, “everything is all right and that we have become an advanced people”, when the evidence suggests that we are broken and need intervention to address the spiritual emptiness and loneliness of people today.  It has been said that, “The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions” (Leonardo da Vinci).  What can we learn from marriage and divorce statistics? One half of all first marriages failing in the first five years and  that sixty percent of all second marriage fail?  It is evident that the side effects of an evolving culture has rippling effects that can be seen in the lack of ability to function in relationships which is the thumbprint of the spiritual void in American culture.

One of the great challenges is to understand and not just to diagnose the problem.  To possess the ability make a meaningful contribution to life by being a change agent is the challenge.  We have the ability to understand, but will we? An imposing truth about what will be the answer to loneliness and the spiritual void may be characterized by a statement of truth, “The illiterate of the future will not be the person who cannot read. It will be the person who does not know how to learn” (Alvin Toffler).  In the Garden of Eden, the first relationship problems were solved by a spiritual solution to the needs of humanity.  What is it that can be learned from that?  The people have changed, but the solution remains that when we do not have a right relationship to God, all other relationships disintegrate.