Jay Rifenbary

Jay Rifenbary's Blog

Blackberry Syndrome: Are We Losing Our Humaness


Is it me, or does it appear homo sapiens are physically regressing to the hunch backed ancestors they evolved from? Beware of Blackberry Syndrome for it is coming to a hand held, neck bending, posture slumping position near you. As the evolution of our species continues there may be a day when human beings will not be able to lift their heads because of their progressive obsession with phone text messaging and emailing. I am exaggerating of course, but I believe there are some social consequences with this obsession.

With my frequent business travels it is becoming more and more apparent that technology is taking over genuine human interaction. Personally, I have also fallen into the trap of ignoring what is going on around me because of my apparent need to communicate immediately. Although I have witnessed this trend previously, recently it appears to be accelerating exponentially. Every month a new gadget is presented in the market place that is more technologically phenomenal then it’s ancestor, which only increases the desire and necessity to keep up with those advancements. The new Apple iPad, the next generation iPod, and iPhone, the wave of new 3D movies, interactive video games, the speed and efficiency of our computers and search engines, the ever-expanding capability of the Internet, and the ability to literally wage war from an office chair are a smidgeon of examples in regard to the power of technology. The evolution and improvement in technology has provided countless benefits to our lives. It is a testament to the achievement and potential of the human mind and spirit. It has always existed, but the volume and speed of change is becoming increasingly unmanageable to keep up with. However, ignore it and you will become a fish out of water, have a business that is antiquated and a level of efficiency that is unacceptable.

In dissent, this constant necessity in our day-to-day lives to relate more to our machines rather than our fellow human beings will degrade what it means to be human. Email versus face-to-face, text message versus actual conversation, virtual rather than real, quantity versus quality of communication are just a few examples of what is becoming the norm. Are we losing our humanness? Humanness is a derivative of the word human and is defined as, “of or characteristic of people as opposed to God or animals or machines, of or characteristics of people’s better qualities, such as kindness or sensitivity.” I am not misguided enough to believe the cons of technology outweigh the pros. Technology has provided us the availability to be a global community and with it the opportunity, when utilized properly, to do wonderful things for mankind. My concern is the lessening of our ability to enjoy the challenge and wonderment of genuine human interaction. It is easier to mindlessly text something potentially irrelevant then it is to observe and experience the environment around you. I consistently see a decrease in the numbers of young people who effectively interact with an adult, or another person for that matter. Eye contact, effective listening skills, and the ability to speak and express oneself succinctly is critical to personal and professional success. A lack of personal interactive communication with others stifles emotional development in regard to relationships, and the ability to have genuine empathy towards others.

One of the keys to maintaining our humanness is to consistently develop our emotional intelligence quotient, or EQ. Although there are many varying definitions for EQ, there is a universal acceptance of it’s importance in regard to communication with others, leadership of others and effective management of one’s own emotions. Certainly IQ will assist in one’s acceptance to school and acquiring a job, but the value of one’s education and the fulfillment in one’s occupation will be the result of our humanness and our ability to implement our emotional intelligence quotient, our EQ. Inspire your children not only to achieve the “A” in school, but inspire them to achieve the “A” in life by effectively learning to communicate with peers, adults, teachers, coaches and business people alike. As we continue to proceed down a path of technology, let us not forget to enjoy the wonderful journey of what it means to be human.

Thursday, October 01, 2020

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