Make “Reach Out and Touch Someone” a Reality Again
Some of you might remember the Bell and AT&T ads in the 1980s that encouraged people to “reach out and touch someone” by using their telephone service. Not only the ads and the types of phones in use at the time, but also the broader message, are practically extinct.
Today, we constantly contend with an endless proliferation of communication in various forms and on multiple devices. We give ourselves a sense of being engaged when really, we are missing life and watching it go by. Rather, we are not even watching because that would mean “unacceptable” down time that would interfere with our focus on what constantly arrives on our cell phones, iPads and computers.
As we come up on the holiday season, I recommend that we take a real break from devices and really connect in person…although this may seem novel, especially to Millennial and post-Millennial generations.
Overall – not just during the holidays – I advocate for a lot less technology and a lot more face-to-face communication, whether it’s at work, at home or with friends. We need to realize that in-person conversations are well worth the time and make the most sense.
People accuse me and others of needing more work-life balance. I love balance in life and I have many interests beyond work despite my passion for and commitment to what I do in my role at NJAMHAA. However, electronic communication in multiple forms demands my attention, especially from my constituents. For years now, almost “ad nauseum”, there have been articles about managing e-mail by ignoring it. I cannot follow that advice. My family, friends and work are too important.
However, I am making an early New Year’s resolution to strive for not only greater work-life balance, but also tech-body balance, as the Harvard Business Review featured earlier this year. Charlotte Lieberman, the author of this article, made many compelling statements. Here is one that particularly struck me: “A 2016 survey from Deloitte found that Americans collectively check their phones 8 billion times per day. The average for individual Americans was 46 checks per day, including during leisure time – watching TV, spending time with friends, eating dinner.” Lieberman added that many people check their phones when they’re in bathrooms! Even I haven’t gotten to that extreme – and I will not go there.
Lieberman also talked about the physical toll that technology can cause: for example, neck strain from looking at screens for long periods of time and aching wrists from an inordinate amount of scrolling and typing.
Other articles have underscored how today’s youth are so over-engaged in technology of various forms, that they have lost the real art of communication and, despite being “connected” have developed feelings of isolation and loneliness. Obviously, a social media-only friend is not the same as a real friend who gives you a hug.
Beyond the impacts on our physical, mental and emotional health, we also need to be careful for our safety. Cybersecurity risks abound, as we know from data breaches that have been reported in the news – online, of course (as well as “old-fashioned” newspapers). Social media also presents safety risks: users do not know who they are communicating with and, unfortunately, not everyone has good intentions.
I hope all of you have safe and enjoyable holidays and make “reach out and touch someone” a reality again with in-person contact with friends and family.