In an earlier post, I mentioned that, to me, one of the main benefits of tech is to “to inspire users to create and share ideas and enhance the overall experience of learning and growing as human beings”. This is the first of hopefully a number of posts providing suggestions/examples of how we could do that (as opposed to play with the latest toys/features of software and hardware or browse social network streams until we drop).
One of the most essential needs for humans is the good company of family and friends. While we all also need isolation and time for reflection, the need for spending quality time with family and friends will never go away, and I have found that just being around this kind of company makes me happier and more productive.
Experiencing family and friends in person is great, but because of job opportunities or travel we are often forced to communicate remotely. What I have found is that this kind of communication is mostly ‘active’ with the exception of chat which is usually very passive. The problem with ‘active’ communication (e.g. phone or video chat) is that a constant stream of attention is required. I think this is what leads people to say “I’m not really a phone person”, for instance: the desire to avoid awkward pauses or moments when there’s not much content when the medium of communication sort of ‘demands’ a more active form of communication.
But when we are ‘hanging out’ with our family and friends in person, such an active form of communication is not expected of us. For example, when you are at home with the family it’s perfectly natural for different members of the family to be reading, doing homework, etc. with the occasional interruption to share a thought or to eat. I believe that it is exactly this more relaxed form of communication that creates an atmosphere of comfort and openness to share ideas and fun experiences.
There’s no reason that we can’t use phone and video chat to experience a more passive, potentially more inspiring form of communication. One of the best experiences I had shortly after graduating college was sharing a video chat while watching Arrested Development episodes with a friend remotely. We didn’t just watch the show. We spoke as if we were in the same room together and it was so fun that I still remember it fondly many years later.
It’s a little odd: you have to get all parties to agree to leave their video/audio chat open while you cook/share a meal for example. It’s not the norm, but I think doing more of this passive communication with family and friends would be a great use of tech that already exists: especially since we don’t have to pay by the minute anymore!