Friday, October 31, 2014

Text Me When You Die

My fourth-grade son recently did a school report on the Wright Brothers, the two who created the first airplane.  I went with my son to an air and space museum and marveled at what they had accomplished not much more than 100 years ago.  Did they know their invention would be the precursor for space exploration and the preferred method of worldwide travel?  Did they know their invention would be used in wars and in such a decisive way?

All things can be used for a good or bad purpose.  Taken to their limits, they can even become something else.  Were printing presses, when first created, thought of as being able to print only good things, or did people realize that any kind of book can and will be published?

Today we have social media technology that is taking us in all kinds of directions, changing, challenging, improving, questioning, and assisting the life process.  These devices can transform how we see and experience life – and influence our behaviors.  There is a reward – and price – to any of this.  Will humans evolve with technology – or will machines evolve faster?

When I was a kid growing up I was told the robots would take over.  Today, they already have taken over, but instead of a life-sized machine soldiering against us, we are literally pushing the buttons of the devices that could save us – or imprison us.

I know one thing, we spend a lot of time with communication devices but our communication has gotten worse.  We have gone from texting and emailing instead of calling and from calling instead of visiting in person.  Two people can be on their gadgets, side by side or at a table, but they’re not really engaging each other.

I have friends who think I should watch their Facebook postings to learn what’s going on with them, as if they’re too burdened to call me and share the old-fashioned way.

I am just as guilty.  I wanted to surprise my wife with a Valentine’s Day present by giving it to her in October – a pair of theatre tickets.  But I emailed this to her, rather than giving it to her in person.

She got upset of my delivery means.

A week later one of her relatives was diagnosed with cancer.  I asked if she called to talk to her and she said she’d send her a text.

Even when one’s life is on the line, we’re not moved to have a direct conversation about it.

One day we’ll have virtual funerals, where people don’t even gather to pay their respects.  Instead of being face to face with the grieving, we can each be in our own homes, connected by email.  We can meet up in a Twitter chat or stream on Facebook.

Any time we need to communicate with people that we have to reach by don’t want to talk to, we send emails.  It’s what leaving a voicemail or mailing a physical letter used to do for us.  But now we use tech talk to communicate anything, even good news or happy moments.

Maybe we need to rethink how we use all of the technology we have at our hands.  It should enhance or supplement – not replace – human contact.  We should make sure that we, as humans, don’t become more robotic, but rather, we should humanize the devices and where possible, communicate without them.

One day you won’t just email a funeral – you’ll send a text to others that you died.  It’ll go to the devices of these people and the devices will send automated responses.  In turn, automated responses will be sent to answer such responses.  

The more we act like robots, the less human we become.

Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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