Sunday, November 28, 2010

Forcing Tech on Others

A fellow named John Dyer has an interesting post on his blog about how since his father cannot access the Internet, he does not get all of John's updates about his life. He must use "older" technology like the phone or postal mail to keep up or send pictures.

This inspired a few thoughts.  One is that we have higher expectations of others to keep up with our lives.  We expect them to use the same tech we do, such as Twitter, Facebook, or just a blog, and to follow those in whatever way they wish to keep up with what we're doing.  That can be framed in a positive light as allowing others to choose whether or not to keep up with us.  It can also be framed as us expecting them to conform to our means of communication and to make sure they check it on some regular basis to find out if there's an update.  It seems to me that if we really value someone, we will want to keep up with them no matter the technology medium.

A second thought is that our communications to let others know what we're up to has become less personal as it has become easier to broadcast.  I remember when my mother would hand write individual letters to friends at Christmastime.  Family friends started writing a generic letter that was just copied and sent to everyone, and mom decided at some point to do that as well.  Kristy and I only do a generic letter at Christmas, as do most (maybe all?) of our friends.  Surely that's multiplied now as our Facebook status gets broadcast to anyone with permission to read it.  Now, it would take quite a bit of time to write individual letters, or even individual electronic messages to everyone I would like to send an update to.  The technology (copiers, printers, Facebook, Twitter) now facilitate broadcasting an impersonal message.  It's much easier, but I fear we've lost meaningful personal contact in the process of getting to this point.

What do you think?  What is lost and what is gained in terms of keeping up with people?

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