Future Shifts from Within

“…many signs indicate that the future enters us… in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens.” – Rainier Maria Rilke

future shifts
Photo by Trey Ratcliff, shared via Creative Commons license.

I think our newfound access to information and communication via increasingly usable devices is still so fresh and exciting that any judgment, survey, or even NYT article on the subject cannot be taken too literally.

We’re humans. Creatures of comfort bound to act irrationally in a wide open yet unfamiliar place of such inebriating possibilities as the digital world. Attention, Stimulation, Information… we’re multitasking and we want more!

But how can we be the same if everything around us is changing?

You can break it down to the 0’s and 1’s. For business, society, government… this is a revolution. But I think it’s just a “shift” for interpersonal communication and the way we relate, react, co-create, and respond.

All of this info is ours at last and it’s still incredible to just suck it up and share it. We have instant audiences and can solicit instant feedback yet for the most part our tweets do nobody more good than ourselves. Sometimes you’ve gotta say it out loud to realize it. But for the hundreds of blogs in our RSS readers how many posts are we commenting on or better yet taking personally as invitations for feedback / collaboration.

In IMs and status updates and quick emails, much comes across out-of-context and is open to interpretation — even guessing. What does he/she mean exactly? But it’s a shift – we still “learn” each other in much the same way we might (or might not) in an extended face-to-face.

Everyday we know the future will be here tomorrow and that’s not to be taken for granted. But some things stay the same.

It’s easier than ever to make connections but it’s nothing compared to being “there” and making it all connect.

Part 1 in an series of posts and cross-published comments inspired by friends’ recent blog posts. This in response to “The Messages We Receive,” by Nicole Cifani.

3 Replies to “Future Shifts from Within”

  1. You really nailed it in the last graf.

    Sure: sarcasm and nuances of our personalities seem to come across better in IM and email now than they have in the past. We evolve.

    Sure: we’re communicating in public right now. Yet as public as it feels to swap comments on blog posts, in the grand scheme of things, it’s like talking and walking down the street or having a conversation over coffee. One can hope their statements are picked up by a bystander just as one may hope that what’s said aloud wasn’t heard at the next table. 

    It’s wishful thinking if not vanity either way you look at it. We are able to live our lives in public now, it’s our movie, and we’re both directing and starring.

    But realistically, the audience — if and when there is one — isn’t paying much attention to begin with. And so what if it is?

    We’re aware of these shifts in communication for both the public and private spheres. 

    What may be most threatened now and in the future is the personal sphere.

    It’s too easy (and fun) to lose oneself in the digital wonderland be it marathon work sessions, gaming, surfing and discovery, whatever. But to a great extent, one-on-one IMs and e-mails can at times be akin to talking to a mirror. 

    I don’t think it’s possible to replicate nonverbal interpersonal interaction online – video chat comes closest, but the presence is phony. I’d fear for the worst if we evolved to a point in which eye contact didn’t add context or content to a conversation.

    So, yes, getting out into the real world, unplugging, and working to develop incentives for others – especially younger generations – to do the same just might be a key element to not just personal — but societal, cultural, and even economic growth. 

    We need to take breaks, to take stock of ourselves away from the media screen. I mean, no doubt kids are already skipping out on recess to trade up on Farmville…

    It sure is easier to communicate and maintain relationships from afar these days. But easier isn’t always good. And things happen fast for better and worse.

  2. Totally. We definitely can’t be the same if everything around us is changing.

    And I agree that free-flowing communication creates a “shift” in interpersonal communications. With that shift, some things are gained and others lost.

    For the public sphere this is obviously an incredible thing.

    For the private – maybe not so much.

    We are, for the most part, talking to ourselves through hyper-aware self-presentations in blogging tools, answers to “What’s Happening?” on Twitter, and in tweaking that perfectly-crafted image of self (profile) on Facebook.

    Is it communication? Absolutely. Is it authentic? Who knows!

    in our eyes, we’re all celebrities.

    The plethora of ways to communicate now is incredible. And fun! But I wonder how easy it is to become misguided as to who someone is – and on the one-to-one level of IM and e-mail, what gets lost.

    Many thoughts – practical, relevant, whatever – can go missing in the big-picture context of a relationship with another person.

    There are loads of people behind a screen all day and night; working, gaming, or otherwise.

    If we all don’t get out into the real world and take some time to unplug, I wonder if it becomes way too easy to lose meaning. Meaning with not only others, but perhaps even commonplace interests and activities that ironically enough our Facebook profiles list.

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