Lynn Serafinn looks at how modern technologies have helped businesses grow, reconnected families and enabled many to express themselves who otherwise could not.
This week I read an interesting article by blogger Bryan Kramer entitled ‘How Technology Affects Human Relationships’.1 Kramer’s main point was that ‘it’s great that we have the technology to connect with people across the globe instantly, but there’s also a sense of disconnection’. He went on to cite many ways in which technology often fails us in our relationships. Among other things, he talks about how difficult it is to bring tone of voice into our online communications, and how technology can lead to ‘cocooning’, which can develop into social isolation where we don’t actually make an effort to meet with people face-to-face or speak with them in ‘real time’ (such as over the phone or Skype). Kramer’s concluding thoughts were: ‘I guess the best approach is to make yourself available through technology only when appropriate, so that it supplements our relationships rather than replacing them.’
For the most part, I agree with Kramer’s points. I confess that I am prone to being a real ‘cocooner’, and his point about how people can misinterpret ‘tone’ in online communication is spot on. However, as someone who grew up around technology and who has used it to express herself (and help others do the same) since the late 1980s, I see things a little differently. I believe, like any other human innovation, communication technology is what you make of it. In other words, it has as much potential to CREATE and/or RECONNECT relationships as it does to destroy or disconnection them.
Here are some of my own thoughts on the subject. I’d really love to hear some of your own, so please DO add to the discussion in the comments thread at the bottom of the page.
Ways I Have Seen Technology Help Connect People
ANGLE 1: Many of my relationships with both colleagues and closest friends started out – either directly or indirectly – through my blog, Twitter or Facebook. We started our communications online, and then gradually moved them to a real-time environment (e.g. speaking on Skype or the phone). Eventually, if we lived close enough to each other, we arranged to meet in person for coffee or lunch. Over time, we became friends and now we just like to hang out.
ANGLE 2: Since the ‘economic downturn’ of the mid 2000s, more and more people have turned to self-employment as a means of supporting themselves. Many of those businesses are operated from their own homes, often with an online presence. These factors can create a ‘cocoon-like’ existence. Going to work is not like a day at the office. For me, if not for technology, I probably wouldn’t communicate with anyone during the day (nor would I have the business that is keeping me alive!).
ANGLE 3: I was born in America but now live in England. Social media and Skype have increased the frequency with which I communicate with friends and family back in the US. They have also helped me find and reconnect with dozens of people with whom I grew up but had lost touch.
ANGLE 4: I am the daughter of an immigrant father and a 1st generation American mother. For decades since my parents died I have felt a massive gap in the fact that I had no knowledge of, or family connections to, my ancestral home. A plethora of technological resources have not only enabled me to trace my ancestry, but also to FIND, meet and build deep, meaningful relationships with my long-lost cousins, both in Europe and in the United States. I cannot tell you how much that has done for me. My life would be empty without this. (As a side note: a former client of mine was recently reconnected with her long-lost father within 48 hours of posting her search on social media).
ANGLE 5: Technology has also enabled me to GIVE something to my extended family. Using Facebook, Ancestry and YouTube, I can share facts, old photos, videos, etc. Sometimes, through Ancestry, complete strangers contact me via my online resources, thanking me profusely for the media of their great-grandmother or long-lost aunt, or whomever we happen to be mutually related to. Thus, technology has enabled me to help other people establish relationships with their family – past and present.
ANGLE 6: In 1965, when I was 10 years old, my dad Ralph Serafinn (born Romeo Serafini), an electronics engineer for Bell Telephone in New York, invented the very first telephone device for the deaf and deaf-blind. Called the ‘Sensicall’, it was very simple compared to today’s technology and was eventually surpassed by personal computer systems. However, at the time, we received many letters from grateful people around the world who said my father’s invention had changed their lives completely, as it enabled them to connect directly with their friends and loved ones like everyone else could.
ANGLE 7: As a parent and educator, over the past 15 years I have repeatedly witnessed how technology (first with chat rooms and forums; later with social media) can often provide a means of communicating for naturally ‘introverted’ people who otherwise find it difficult to express themselves and connect with people in social settings. Some might misinterpret this behaviour as ‘hiding away’, but sometimes, it is the very thing that draws people out of their shell.
ANGLE 8: Back in the 1980s and ’90s, I was an electronic dance musician – composing, recording, etc. Technology enabled me to create, perform and sell music in ways that were never open to me before those technologies existed. It also enabled me to experiment with ideas that were more ‘outside the box’ compared to any other musical mode I had utilised in the past. While technology helped me build relationships with my listening audience and my retail network, it also helped me build the most valuable relationship there is – the one within myself.
ANGLE 9: From 1999 to 2007, I taught music technology to hundreds of students in Britain. For most of them, technology was the only way they could find their voice and express their creativity, as they weren’t all performers, or even ‘musicians’ in the traditional sense of the term. Again, I have personally witnessed the power of technology as a means of connecting with oneself, but also with the wider world.
ANGLE 10: Over the past decade, I’ve worked with hundreds of small business owners to develop their businesses – and their business relationships – through technology. I have done this primarily by helping them learn how to express and market themselves through blogging and social media. I’ve also helped dozens of authors launch their books by building a network of allied business colleagues. Many of these connections evolve into friendships and/or ongoing business collaborations.
I confess that some days I have a love-hate relationship with technology. I especially get annoyed when software gets a glitch or my Internet goes down. But even if technology can sometimes feel like the ‘lemon’ of modern existence, I always think it’s better to make lemonade than simply have a sour face.
It’s true that technology might, in some ways, distance us. But it also has great potential to help us connect, express ourselves and grow together collectively. That’s the world I’m trying to create through my work.
I guess I inherited that gene from my dad.
I’d love to hear your thoughts below. What are YOUR thoughts and stories about technology and human relationships?
17th September 2015
P.S. If you’d like to explore how to use technology to create better relationships in your business, take a minute to read my article Deepening Our Relationships with Clients – An Invitation, and then drop me a line via the contact form on this site.
- Kramer, Bryan. 2015. ‘How Technology Affects Human Relationships’. Accessed 15 September 2015 from http://bryankramer.com/how-technology-affects-human-relationships/
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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketing strategist, social media expert, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales. Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors.
Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project, created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
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