The Employers' Association

The Employers’ Association (TEA) is a not-for-profit employers’ association, formed in 1939, with offices in Grand Rapids serving the West Michigan employer community. We help more than 600 member companies maximize employee productivity and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, and consulting services.

TEA is in the business of helping people. This blog is intended to address human issues, concerns and the things that impact people - be they self-perpetuated or externally imposed. Feel free to respond to the thoughts presented here, for without each other, we are nothing!

Monday, October 18, 2010

E-COMMUNICATING – A BLESSING OR A CURSE?


Having grown up in an era where a telephone was a device that transmitted voice communications from one person to another (and even occasionally shared the conversation via what was then called a “party line”), I sometimes have a hard time understanding the way individuals “talk” to each other today.

We once verbalized our thoughts – we now reduce our discussions to a series of keystrokes. Raising one’s voice was “shouting” in times gone by – now one needs only raise the case of their typing from lower case to all capitals. “Community” was where one lived – now it is a space having no boundaries that houses those with whom we communicate.

News, once seen on television, heard on radio and read in newspapers, is history by the time it reaches these “traditional” media sources. We have 24/7 access to breaking news over the internet (or through portable handheld devices) via our electronic mail boxes. Some have said that today’s news is created through analysis and interpretation of available information rather than through investigation and reporting of facts – an observation I cannot totally discount. Good news does not sell – negative news, rumor, innuendo or articles that focus on the fallibility of people capture our imagination.

Electronics are making our world a smaller place – where “breaking news” seems to be available almost before it “breaks.” Providing a “surface look” at the truth has become sufficient for many. Privacy, once valued and respected by individuals, is but a temporary obstacle on the path towards full disclosure. We authorize agencies to take funds directly from our accounts based only on an electronic transaction statement and freely reveal our identities (and credit information) to strangers whenever we purchase something online. What does it profit us to abandon conversation in exchange for communication?

Though the road upon which we travel is one we cannot easily exit, what ultimate price will we pay when “communicating” displaces socializing – if it has not yet done so? Before you reach for the computer (or the Blackberry or phone with a retractable keyboard) to fire off a memo, think about the art of communication (rather than the process of e-communicating). Make an effort to return to the era where words could paint a picture and the mind’s eye could see a masterpiece – you won’t regret the effort as you make a difference in the lives of those around you!