The Damage Done from the Great Disconnect

There was this thing we used to call outdoors. Remember it? There were places too, like playgrounds for example. We used to go there when we were kids. Or an open field was a good place too. We used to fly kites. We used to talk. We used to play. And as I say this, I tell this to a white computer screen in an otherwise dark loft. As I say this to myself, my fingers push keys to formulate the words on a person-made creation, which we call technology.  I say these words in my head that appear on a screen to formulate my sentences. Yet, nobody reads anymore. Books and the traditional publishing business is and has been forever altered with systems that read to us for us.

I say this as someone who was told not to use calculators because calculators already know how to do math. It was me who needed to learn to add, multiply, subtract and divide, not the calculator. This is coming from someone who was told not to buy a digital watch because clocks have numbers and hands and that as a person in the world; I should know how to read a clock and tell time. Digital watches and calculators and systems like this are all designed to think and know for us.
Openly, I say this to a world where everything has become automated, including customer service, which is all recordings now or a virtual-voice and multi-lingual, of course.
“Para Español, marque el numero dos.”

As I write this to you, I note that my journal entries will move through cyberspace and reach a cyberworld, which is perhaps more vast than the universe itself. 

As I write this to you, I acknowledge that we live in a world where there are more than 8.9 million applications on our cell phones or handheld devices – which by the way, all of this can think for us, remember for us, dream, imagine, schedule and speak for us – of course, this is so we don’t have to. The intention was to ease our math so that our surface mind can think freely on other things. But other things are now thought of by virtual minds and computerized systems.

I have chosen to become somewhat of a voice in a field that has been familiar to me. More to the point; I have been on one side or the other of the mental health world for a very long time. I have chosen to become an advocate and to enter the professional arena of mental health and wellness. In my efforts to support people in crisis, I see this world in danger of slipping into a personless void where systems and applications replace human interaction.

I see this no differently than the computerized support systems that navigate callers to an operator when calling for emotional support. We have become so impersonal. Almost cold to the warmth of human interaction.
More and more, I see the usefulness of human interaction is slipping away into the virtualness of computer programs and automated living. However, I see no way to digitize or automate, program or technically reproduce the feeling or the personal warmth of human touch. 

Perhaps this is subjective. Perhaps this is a wish that comes from a person who existed before this generation. Maybe this comes from someone who remembers what it was like to receive a handwritten letter in the mail. Or wait, no.
This comes from a person who remembers what it was like to have an in-depth conversation on the phone. Not in an email.
I am someone who remembers what it was like before our business world became more about emails and texts than actual interaction.

And as for emails. As for texts. This is the Mother of God, Almighty when it comes to misinterpretation. Texts or emails do not come with a rhythm of speech or a mutual context.
There is no depth of sound; but more, there is only interpretation of the written word, which as we all know by now – interpretation is not always equal to intention.
I had a conversation with a person who started at his position nearly 6 months ago and aside from emails, this person has never had an actual or verbal communication with his top supervisor. No phone calls. Just emails and directives. Is this right?

I have been listening to employers talk about the great return as opposed to the great resignation in which millions of people are quitting their job. Millions of people are looking to work remotely instead of returning to a physical workplace and why is this?
The answer is simple.

Our systems and the effort to streamline programs for better efficiency as well as to utilize technology over nurturing personal interaction has transpired in such a way that people no longer need people – least of all in a physical workplace.
As big businesses looked to save time and money by creating workable systems to remove personal interaction and save on their payroll (or avoid a law suit), we grew in an automated world to deflect or remove us from interaction.
As more applications form by the millions, workers in big businesses are finally seeing that since owners removed the need for our personal communication (and human synergy) their physical appearance is no longer needed in the workplace. 

I spoke with a colleague whose office went from more than 50,000 sq.ft. to just over 7,000 sq.ft and what used to be an office space bustling with people has now become a less-needed hybrid office with little to hardly any physical interaction. No one has an office anymore. Just a physical meeting place, which might eventually be phased out in the long run.

Growing up, I can recall the futuristic movies where systems took over and technology destroyed the world. And here we are, in the middle of something I cannot explain or understand. Here we are, living in a world where people would rather text than talk. 

There was a door behind a strip mall where I grew up. I remember the graffiti that was spray painted across it. The steel door was mainly black but rusty. The spray paint was white and across it with paint drippings that streamed down from a few of the letters were the words, “No government can ever give you freedom” 
Neither will any app for your phone.

I am certainly not here to advocate anarchy nor am I about to defend a place where underage kids would hide and do less-than-legal behaviors. However, I would like to detail the need for ease of math or the reasons why we have almost 9 million apps for our smartphones.
In our search to save effort, money or time, we have eased each other out of existence. People have become more virtual than physical.
We can push a button now instead of talking to each other. This is true. I can say this is true because I have witnessed people in restaurants who stare at their phones instead of the people at their table. 

We live in a time when we are calling for this great return to boost our economy yet, we are also living in a time when our dependency and our culture is based on technology and virtual interaction. Therefore, big businesses who’ve decided to automate everything, use online services, including online mental health services are wondering why people don’t want to come back.

In short, the answer is simple.
We don’t have to go back. We have built systems where the old world mentality has now transformed into a new world order, which has backfired on businesses and workplaces.
In the corporate efforts to improve efficiency and technically advance their earning abilities, workers have proven them right. Computerized interactions and virtual simulations and remote offices are more effective. Because this is so, our society is moving farther and farther apart. This is why no one wants to go back. This is why people want the same money for being equally (if not more in some cases) efficient from home.

I don’t know if kids today understand what it feels like to play hide and go seek or to build a clubhouse. Hell with it. I’m not even sure if they know what it’s like to swing on a swing set in the park with their friends. I wish this for them. In fact, I wish this for everyone.

I have this idea, which is silly. And I know it is.
But I’d love to see people work from or at a true, workplace function. However, the idea would be to show up at a park. We need a big field, so I’m open to suggestions. However, I think Central Park might be the right place. Everyone gets a kite. Or a balloon. Or, maybe we can play a game of kickball. Maybe we can play together. Just a little bit. And maybe if we see the value of human interaction, we can return to our old ways of communicating and say “Good morning” to each other instead of texting it. 

On a personal note. I do believe that food is love. I believe that the nurturing intimacy of a meal that is shared with someone you care for is bonding and that while in front of a triple-tiered platform of foods like shrimp, oysters, lobster and lumped crab meat (depending upon personal taste) there is no application that can replicate this type of interaction.
We need this.

We need the human touch. Otherwise, we will find ourselves splitting further apart and into a virtual world where no one talks anymore and interpersonal warmth becomes a thing of the past.

A kid told me that talking is overrated now.
No one talks unless they have to.

I hope not.
I’d rather see the world resume the way it was. This way, business can be done on the dignity of a handshake.

Or, at least I hope so.

One thought on “The Damage Done from the Great Disconnect

  1. Love the message here. I often worry about the younger generation. It seems that a lot of communication skills are being lost, because everything is “easier” with technology. I think they may miss out on a lot of human connection. Of course, their perspective is that their friends are “on-line”…so, maybe my thinking is just outdated. Guess we will see 🙂

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