Archive for August, 2013

Given the plethora of connectivity platorms and tools (internet, cellphones, mobile devices, social media), many are dubbing the resulting interactivity as The Relationship Era. This has made me ponder: is there a time in human history when we have not been focused on relationships? Put another way: is our current focus sharing/ad lib communication or relationship building?

Due to the multi-faceted use of the term “relationship”, I will simply define it as a solidarity connection that is built over time and is predicated on mutual trust, respect and benefit. It differs from an “association” in that there is a commitment to maintaining and growing the depth of connection. Both can offer highly beneficial outcomes.

To illustrate, a millenial once asked me: were you born before cellphones? I naturally answered yes but was compelled to ask why this was a curiosity. The answer: how did you talk to each other? My reply: face-to-face, over the phone (regular phone), and in letters. Response: do you feel you had a deeper/better connection with people then as opposed to now?

My initial reaction is yes. There is something that arises from face-to-face interaction that I cannot substitute with technology. Seeing a person’s personality is very different from reading it. Technology allows some to step back and be more reflective while others become more uninhibited; a few put forth alter egos they don’t share in person. At the same time, technology does facilitate connectedness with established relations as well as opens doors to connections beyond one’s immediate or traditional sphere of influence.

However, the question: why do we communicate? is a compelling one. If, as was put forth to me, the objective is to establish deeper connections, who do we want to do this with and how many real connections can we effectively manage?

Number of contacts is an outreach measure not a relationship measure. Even in contractual connections, the contract duration is governed by the extent to which a relationship is maintained (hence the notion of “engagement”, ie remaining actively and voluntarily involved). 

Reflecting on human history, I personally believe we have always been relationship centered; however, we now have tools that enable us to focus on reaching out to and remaining visible with a large number of contacts. In light of this, one has to ask, to what end?

I leave the answer open for reflection and discussion…

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