Thursday, February 25, 2010


I have always fallen on the "low tech" and "high touch" ends of the "tech/touch" continuums.
I still write checks to pay my bills. I have log books to record my business transactions, which I joyfully tally at the ends of quarters and years to provide data to my accountant. I cook healthy homemade meals from scratch each day, using pans and even use a food processor to make pesto that is more than 20 years old.

I do have a Blackberry, though I won't text or Twitter. And I have come to find most of my communication taking place via e-mail or Facebook. Even the phone for my therapy practice, a landline I have had for 25 years, rarely rings these days.

On my Facebook page earlier this week, I posted a question about the balance of "real time" contact that face to face meeting or even telephone chatting allows and "virtual" contact courtesy of the many technological options that seem to be the communication superhighways of our times.

The responses were very interesting. One high school friend noted that social networking sites allowed an introvert to be the proverbial fly on the wall, and feel more connected to community than she could or would in a more face to face medium. Another friend celebrated the diversity of communication media now available to us, so we can pick and choose how and when we will communicate. A third friend noted that he often has a hard time fully expressing himself real time, so the solitude and spaciousness of writing his thoughts and feelings on a keyboard allowed him more complete self-expression.

There are elements of connection and communication that our internet tools truly foster and even enhance. Yet, there are other dimensions of being human that just can't be replicated in cyberspace. A loving touch, a hand of reassurance, a comforting hug or even a mutually knowing glance of the eyes cannot be replicated in cyberspace. Human beings and human hearts exchange life energy, and though our words and thoughts are products of this life energy, the actual, physical, multi-dimensional experience of our life energy does not translate viscerally and kinesthetically in cyberspace.

Too, some people learn to abbreviate their thoughts into "text speak" with U for you, R for are and all those clever terms like LOL, so that the art and practice of full self-expression becomes cybercompressed. While, on the upside, one can meet a potential friend or partner in cyberspace, on the downside, relationships can be ended too easily in a keyboard stroke, using the very efficient, but incredibly impersonal medium of the written word. Our EQ somehow seems to diminish as instead of fully working an issue or engaging in "good relationship process," we gather and dispose of one another emotionally quickly and sometimes thoughtlessly as well as heartlessly.

I think we need to be sure to balance an investment in emotional literacy and touch literacy with an investment in technological literacy. If we forget the "real time" experience, life becomes too virtual!

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