Back when I was in college I had a professor tell me I had a rare gift for “concept coding” and I confess that I do just love it when ideas bump into one another. It’s like gymnastics for the brain, the endorphins kick in and it just feels so darn exhilarating. So last week when a member of the team sent me one of those joke emails, things just came together. The messages contained a series of photographs of teenagers — at the beach, backs to the water, on their phones; at a sports event, heads bent, tweeting; having dinner with friends, everyone texting; at the art gallery, same scenario — you get the picture.
The same day I had read a piece in the National Post by Father Raymond J. De Souza. Now I am not a Catholic, not religious at all really, so I rarely read his column. But what arrested my attention this time was a huge image of Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel. Art always gets my attention. So there I was, hooked.
Under the headline, “Michelangelo’s lesson: We are not alone,” De Sousa expounded his thesis was that we are not made for loneliness but for communion with others….” Well that’s not all he said, he did get into his religious shtick. But it got me thinking about a discussion we had internally after the Sandy Hook crisis about alienated youth and the implications of virtual living.
There has been a lot of chatter among the pundits about the impact that twittering, texting and facebook interaction are having on our ability to socialize — most of it focused on addiction, depression, and personality disorder. They seem to see “social media” as an oxymoron.
A lot of people are also getting worked up about the impact tweeting and texting have had on the written word. But those of us who mourn the death of letter-writing are beginning to see a silver-lining. One recent report from Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator suggests that today, writing is overtaking speech as the most common form of human communication. Believe it or not, we are reaching out to old friends and family around the world, more than we ever did in person or by phone. In fact some experts are actually arguing that we have entered a new epistolary age — we just dropped the niceties of salutations and “sincere” sign-offs.
So what’s the bottom line here? This is where I net out. Guys, there is a lot to be said for communications in any form. But if you think there is any substitute on line for actually going to see the Sistine Chapel, you haven’t lived. And ditto hugs. Online kiss-kiss is better than nothing. But the real thing, well, therein lies another blog.