At the start of the school year, I decided to harness this technology to better communicate with the SMS community, so I hope you will enjoy the irony that this blog is about why I sometimes find it hard to decide whether the internet helps us to better connect, or makes us more disconnected.
I recently watched a TED Talk (one of my favourite weekend morning activities) by Sherry Turkle entitled, Connected but Alone? The message within her talk (I encourage you to watch it) is that people are desperate to really and genuinely connect with each other, and that we want those connections to be personal, relevant and meaningful. She believes that technology is causing us to sacrifice conversation for mere connection and that we are setting ourselves up for trouble—in how we connect to each other and to ourselves.
Technology can open up the world, but it can also be a barrier to “real” personal connections. Too often, I see people focused on their electronic devices—trying to keep up with the news, creating online personas of who they want to be rather than who they really are, and communicating through short abbreviated messages, all while being totally disengaged with what is happening around them.
We forfeit the joys of the moment when we are immersed in the virtual world, and we lose our appreciation for the experiences that are directly in front of us. I am also cognizant that what people are willing to share and say online often goes beyond being appropriate, considerate or even ethical. How do we get back to the virtues of a real conversation that includes tone, body language and sensitivity to how our audience is receiving what we are saying? What is said and what is heard are often two different things.
I don’t want to take away from the significance of technology, only to say that we must not let it be a substitute for genuine face-to-face interactions. In the past few weeks, we have all witnessed a significant number of tragedies that have been captured through social media. It is imperative that we teach and practice the art of conversation and harness technology to enrich our lives, rather than take away from that feeling of being truly connected to other human beings.
“People don’t care how much you know until you show them how much you care.”
Let’s be sure that how we use our technology does not compromise this value.
On Monday, November 5, SMS is hosting a Safety, Privacy, and Social Media Forum for SMS parents. We will discuss social media, privacy management and online safety, and provide a forum for parents to ask questions and connect with the technology team at SMS.