I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.
Albert Einstein – Time magazine’s Man of the Century
I’m afraid that day has come, and it has just begun. We’re now living in the “always on” civilization. A recent study of 200 students at Stanford University reveals that 34 percent rated themselves as addicted to their smart phones. How many text messages do you receive every day? How many do you send out? Have you ever experienced that sick, uneasy feeling when you’ve discovered that you haven’t received any text message or call, or that no one has written down anything in your Facebook wall, since you last checked 10 minutes ago?
We all know what high tech is – technologies like smart phones make us available 24 hours a day, like a convenience store. Google Glass, the futuristic eye-ware that puts a tiny, voice-controlled Wi-Fi enabled computer on your face has the geek world abuzz. They already adorn millennial faces and you’re probably next.
The great irony of the high-tech age is that we’ve become addicted to devices that were supposed to give us freedom. We are creatures of habit living in a culture of distraction, the symptoms of which include a continual search for quick fixes and ADD lives that are distanced and distracted. High touch, on the other hand, is the stuff we give up when we’re tuned in to the technological world: hope and compassion, love and forgiveness, nature and spirituality.
Technology may have already surpassed our human interaction. Neuroscience research indicates that E-mail communication is a poor substitute for authentic human interaction. Electronic messages lack what makes communication interesting and emotional. In the evermore complex world we inhabit, how do we reconcile our high-touch values with our high-tech realities?
If you’ve spent much time on Star Trek’s Starship Enterprise you’ll remember that Spock, Enterprise science officer has a constant conflict with his Vulcan and human sides. Like Spock, I believe we can also have it both ways. Technology is neither bad nor good. It is how we use the tools we develop that determine this outcome.
Sustainable businesses paradoxically need to be both high tech and high touch. iPads can greatly increase our creativity. However, love is still the “Killer App” in business and life. High touch caring in relationships builds trust. Mindful leaders are conscious about unplugging themselves and their laptops long enough to reflect, vision, rediscover the simplicity of starry nights and remember what it means to be fully human.
Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to grow emotionally intelligent leaders? Does your organization provide executive coaching for leaders? Sustainable leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more compelling future.
One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Do I integrate high tech with high touch?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their leadership development programs.