Sunday, March 14, 2010

In 3D

I have received many responses on the dating site I participate in---mostly rejections. Granted my face is less ‘ruggedly handsome’ and more ‘ravaged’ per the Janis Ian song. There is another reason that I don’t do well on the dating site. Though I’m good on paper, I’m much better in three dimensions.

I should have seen it coming. I was working for a large insurance company when email came on the scene. Slaving in the quarry of cubicles my neighbor would email me rather than greet me in person. Corporate bosses would email messages rather than face me with an issue—“Greetings Dillo. How does a nice long vacation sound?” Nobody would leave their ergonomically positioned chair to interact person to person.

Professors across the country are banning laptops from classrooms.
José A. Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts at Southern Methodist University, is removing them from lecture halls and urging his colleagues to "teach naked" — without machines. Bowen says class time should be used for engaging discussion, something that reliance on technology discourages.

“Taste and see,” are words the psalmist uses to drive our experience of God. An experience that engages all five senses will have a greater impact on us than an event that is only seen. Partial engagement equals distractions. At the bowling alley I saw a girl bowling and texting at the same time. Needless to say she was not fully engaged. I guess you could say she was on ‘pins and windows.’ Fullness and joy in either event did not occur but only dissipated involvement in each.

Laptops and cell-phones are great tools for interacting with the world. A friend of mine is a truck driver. Texting and phone calls allow us to stay in touch throughout the week. Those electronic messages are but a shadow of the interaction we enjoy when we get together for a meal. Face to face we are fully engaged, Facebook to Facebook is a quick note in passing.


Anonymous said...

I understand what you're saying, but I think that any instance of and/or form of communication has the potential to be full and significant--I've had face-to-face, in-person interactions with people that were less full and less rich than some telephone calls or letters, so being there with all 5 senses doesn't assure quality. We must fight the urge to allow the tools to make it easy for us to opt out and not make an interaction as rich and meaningful as it can be, but we also need to accept that the responsibility (or the blame) rests squarely on us, not the technology. Just as it is the eye that makes a great photographer, not the camera, it isn't the tool that matters in communication, but the brain and heart behind it.


Laurie said...

I can see what Glenn is saying but at the same time it is so easy to communicate 2-D through technology and miss the bigger experience. Email, FB and tweeter is easy enough to keep in touch but many times the 3-D meaning of the communication is missed or misinterpreted. I find I occasionally include a note on my tone when emailing so I am not misunderstood.

While you can be checked out and be person to person, it does increase the odds of a fully alive interaction. Being present is the key to deeper connections. Being present is what takes us to that next level of intimacy that we all seem to crave. While I think you can get there in the tech world, it is much easier and deeper in the real world.

Anonymous said...

I understand what you're saying, Laurie, and I agree that face-to-face interaction changes the elements in an interaction (such as adding the element of visible body language, which can either be accurately interpreted or inaccurately interpreted, so the addition of body langauge neither promises nor prohibits "better" communication--it is just another element). I absolutely agree that "being present" is critical, but to take it one degree further I think the real key is being present in one's heart, and that can happen anywhere, anytime, and regardless of the media (email, telephone, face-to-face, whatever). Also, some of us communicate better when we can compose our thoughts and write them, so for some the chance to communicate as best we can may actually require some time and or distance. But ultimately, I think that being present in the heart is the key, and that transcends time and space, which is why reading a heartfelt 200-year old love letter from an unrelated stranger to their long deceased loved ones can still move us to tears.