The digital divide

The digital divide

Saying goodbye is a strange feeling.

I've got a brother and sister that both live in Australia (one long term, one temporarily for now), and saying goodbye when they left for the airport, or at the airport, was each and every time a pretty rough experience.

Your throat goes dry and your heart clenches up in resistance to the finality of it all.

There's a nervousness about it that you can feel building. It comes slowly at first, over the course of the days leading up to the departure, but explodes in the final minutes.

Tears are inevitable, along with hugs that linger beyond what would normally be socially acceptable, followed by jokes to soften the blow.

It's interesting that technically any time we say goodbye could be the last time, and yet we aren't hit by the emotion truck every time we wave goodbye to someone. Imagine the world if we did...

We also tend to stay relatively stable emotionally when saying goodbye over the phone.

The scenario could be exactly the same - a family member is leaving the country for a year. Those same goodbyes, however, do not carry the same weight if exchanged over the phone.

I think it's important to consider these moments as our new technology based world evolves.

What does it all mean?

Dealing with someone face to face is an entirely different beast to dealing with them digitally, be it through voice call, video call, or text.

The above is just one example of this, but there are plenty more every day examples.

Let's consider the modern office.

Some of my colleagues work remotely 99% of the time and to say it is the same as working with someone in person is just not true.

It's impossible to build the same level of comradery.

More interesting still is working with a colleague or company that is based in another country.

I find that a sense of 'the others' develops over time. That the people in the office form a sort of tribe that those who are remote are not a part of. There is them and there is us, and between the two groups lays the digital divide.

Within this divide there is often tension, miscommunication and frustration.

I have consistently found that people are a lot more reasonable and friendly when they are in the same room than when communicating digitally.

I would say this is the same phenomena that results in internet trolls, and people's general horribleness online.

We say things online that you would never say to someone's face. Sure, anonymity plays a huge part in this, but surely so does the digital divide,.

We have evolved for thousands of years to interpret subtle facial cues and body language.

Our empathy functions at its peak in face to face interactions, where we can read these cues and fully understand the weight of our words.

Communicating online seems to result in a sort of dehumanization. It's pretty easy to abuse someone when you don't have to look them in the eye; when you are dealing with an avatar not a person.

The point here is that while we may be more connected then ever before and constantly engaged in communication, it is lower quality communication.

We need real face to face interaction with others and it is delusional, and ultimately detrimental, to think that we can replace human interaction with digital interaction without consequence.

Modern Politics

Modern Politics