I have received a few big news events via email over the past couple of weeks. I wanted to fire off an email immediately to participate in the conversation and share my initial reactions to these pieces of news, but stopped myself. If I hastily send something, I often regret what I did or didn’t write, and ultimately think of the email I wished I had crafted after the fact. In conversations this is not possible, but with the space and distance created by technology, I am afforded time to ponder a response before committing to it. So in these more recent instances of receiving news via email, I’ve chosen to wait to reply. What I have found is that it’s given me time to digest the information and be sure that I’m responding to the email rather than typing a reaction.
Social media is rife with reactionary slews. Everyone seems to have opinions about everything – which is true in real time as well, it’s just that people have the discretion not to verbalize it, and body language can be selectively ignored. There is something about the disconnect created while using the internet that allows people to feel they can react however they please to another person. It is as if people forget that it was indeed a person on the other end of the mechanized network that expressed a thought or feeling. Our disconnectedness breeds disconnectedness.
After going through this thought process, it struck me that our digital age enables reaction. Replying to an email or Facebook post is as efficient as placing a few quick keystrokes and mouse clicks. The act creates a one sided conversation. When most of our communication is non-verbal, using technology to communicate changes the very communication itself.
Responding rather than reacting allows for growth. Self-regulation and listening to feedback. Slow and small solutions. Observing and interacting. When I act to quickly I assert my agenda as more important than other beings around me…human or otherwise. I am questioning the role of the internet has in our current global situation. I am thinking about how much our engagement with the digital world influences our reactions in the real time world. I am wondering how the internet might be used to help us move away from our reactive cultural norms. I am also curious how many people are participating this technologically enabled one sided conversation…