Wednesday, April 01, 2009

This Modern World

In the midst of a very busy day, I was struck today by the notion of just how complex the world has become and how our lives are so enmeshed with technology. I was remembering the mid-1980's when I bought my first telephone answering machine, and how stunned I was that a small device could record the voices of my loved ones, preventing me from simply missing their calls. The simplicity of that technology is almost laughable now, but at the time it was close to revolutionary.

Now, we check our email while climbing mountains, text message while shopping for groceries, and use Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, and any number of digital venues to remain connected with the world at large.

Amidst this frenzied activity, I am led to wonder what we're missing and where we are disconnecting. What are we losing as we stare into the screen? What opportunities for serendipity and happenstance are ultimately squandered when our eyes are on the keyboard rather than the scenery around us?

Yes, we are connected, and the sophisticated communication systems which light up our globe do indeed bring us together. I myself have found old friends on Facebook, met new friends on Twitter, and made unexpected and important connections---both personal and professional---through blogging. I am, admittedly, totally consumed by the online world, checking my email multiple times per day, posting on Twitter and updating my Facebook profile daily.

So, amidst the tumult of data, the blog posts and updates and profiles and emails, there is a mass of real live humanity, flesh and blood actors walking across the stage of my life, entering stage left and exiting stage right. I can connect through the small screen, and I can text and type to my heart's content, but it is the face to face encounters, the hand on the arm, the twinkling of an eye, that surely should not be forgotten or overlooked.

Walking down the street tomorrow, try looking at those around you. Notice their clothing, their hair, their eyes, their facial expressions. Hold open a door, shake a hand, offer a smile, and connect in real time in the 3rd dimension. And when you're back at your computer or staring at the Blackberry, remember the faces behind the text, and send those emails with an extra dose of humanity and vulnerability.

We are connected. We are connecting. And we must always remember to remain present in the here and now, even as our attention is drawn once again to the virtual world. It is a tangled and complex web we weave, but our ability to connect with one another in meaningful ways is truly so very simple. I want to invite more of that simplicity into my life, and if you have found a way to do so, I would be happy to hear how you have managed to keep your head above the digital waters. Life is rich with the possibility of connection, and I welcome those connections with open arms and a happy heart.
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