Yesterday, in our worship service at GUC, I talked of the experience we have probably all had of having some kind of digital exchange with someone that created a conflict. Perhaps because it was written and sent when emotion was running high...perhaps it was because the one receiving the email or text read into it things that you never intended. Whatever the reason, when such communication has gone badly, our first impulse is (or at least should be) to connect directly with the other person--at least by voice if not in person. We know intuitively that face to face (even voice to voice) communication is so much more revealing and nuanced. So much more is conveyed by facial expression, voice inflection, physical proximity, touch, etc. Such communication is the best path to the restoration, cultivation, and preservation of trust
A question I have is this: when so much of our connection with one another these days takes the form of digital communication, so much less of ourselves is being communicated with more and more people. The number of people we are "in touch" with is growing. By comparison, the number of people with whom we have face-to-face communication remains constant--or perhaps is diminishing. Face to face communication (or even voice-to-voice) becomes less necessary when we are more "in touch" these other ways. Do we become less skilled at face-to-face communication? Because of the convenience of digital connection, we actually feel the burden of face-to-face communication and so we opt for the digital over the physical. How do we evaluate what we are gaining and what we are losing with our emerging habits of connecting?
My intent here is not to disparage digital communication. My intent is to defamiliarize what has become so familiar to us all and to clear some space for reflective evaluation.