© tg | 2010 | sv4-en
The internet has propelled us from recipients only to actual media producers, ready at all times. We publish texts, photos and videos on end and on all channels: anyone can publish and receive, anytime, from anywhere. Blogs, social networks, video- and photo-sites, podcasts, web-forums: our opportunities to communicate and to attract readers, viewers and listeners is now, finally, unlimited. On the one hand, that is.
However, we as inhabitants of the digitalised industry nations are also immersed in an abundance of information: any ideas are retrievable, immediately, here and now. What really counts, though, is to find the really nutritious fish in the muddy and crowded pond. We cannot just cast our close-meshed net – on hauling it inboard it would break due to the amount of fish. Our net was not made to catch entire shoals of fish. Angling with a rod and suitable bait in order to capture exactly what we need – that is what ‘making use of‘ means.
Numerous North American companies have already replaced casual Friday with e-mail-free Friday. The answering of hundreds of e-mails impairs the productivity of their employees to such an extent that the companies’ profits are threatening to decrease. “Time to get personal again“, is how seminar providers advertise their services in e-mail newsletters.
In a survey comparing concentration spans – commissioned by HP – students from the University of London were split into three groups: one was allowed to carry out a task without interruption, the second group was distracted every couple of minutes by e-mails and text messages, and the third group was given marihuana to smoke. Unsurprisingly, the first group received the highest points. However, those participants who were dazed from the drugs achieved much better results and were still decidedly more concentrated than the ones who were constantly faced with distraction. We can conclude: “Mind the crap”.
In the working world the awareness seems to gain ground that being available at all times leads to massive loss of concentration. More and more employees are allowed to work in their home offices without being distracted – from time to time even their notebook can remain in the office. So far so good – regarding the job.
Nevertheless, we are made to believe at every turn of the world wide web that it is only through the internet that we can keep in touch with our friends at all times. At every corner carnival barkers of vanity team up with temptation: invite your friends, contact them, send them pictures or a link or a feed, an event or at least a tweet, prod them, nudge them, bother them.
It seems paradox only at first sight that despite these unlimited opportunities of establishing contact people become increasingly isolated. After all, in communication quantity does in no way correlate to quality. More and more, though not inevitably, isolation leads to killing sprees with pump guns; it robs us of the possibility to experience our environments’ direct responses to our behaviour and our thoughts – that is, responses that go beyond LOL ;-). The only reason for a change in human behaviour lies in reflection. In words and deeds action rubs against reaction and thus catharsis can emerge as the common child of this encounter.
Thus, the time could have come to replace Facebook with Face to Face. With someone else and a cup of tea in a café, going for a walk in the woods or at home over a glass of wine in front of an open fireplace.
It might not always be comfortable to exchange our condensed communicating with the masses for a good old personal encounter. At times more strenuous, always more time consuming and impossible to measure in number of contacts and hence not competitive – but unequalled in depth.
Life is not a huge spa hotel and also no leisure park. In many discourses my desire for a hedonistic adventure effect has to be dropped off at the main entrance. What can develop instead, though, is an unexpected and often not even hoped for expansion of my thoughts. Being confronted with something new, even and especially when it comes to the verbalising of thoughts yet unknown to us, is the basis for our growth as a humans.
Particularly language that is adapted to the situation creates profoundness as there is a fundamental difference in whether I post my thoughts to the world in easily digestible appetisers or in whole, connected sentences. Do I choose lumps of language that are generally comprehensible and agree on this lowest common denominator, or do I direct my words to the one and only addressee of my thoughts. Direct communication with one person when it comes to content as well as format. Put into a language that only has to be geared to and restricted by the two participants whose lowest common denominator is not downgraded by hundreds of other users, but can at times go beyond its own limits because there is enough time, space and patience for an explanation.
Proper profoundness can only be achieved in a completely intimate communicative situation. When one is listening while the other one is speaking. When I can be brought to understand the other’s thoughts through questions and prompt answers – even if I have not comprehended them at first. When I combine language with immediate reaction in sound, gesture and facial expression, continuously adjust it within the communication process – without the intervals exacted from technology – and am not only free to deal with my counterparts utterances but have to deal with them.
Shall we thus immediately turn off all e-mail, IM chats and twitter feeds? No, we should not go entirely without these, but ‘make use of’ them consciously: hence, it’s time to open your Facebook account, click on a friend… and arrange to meet face to face.