My reason for writing this is a story I tell when talking about change management and the need to engage people.
My story reflects on an experience I had about 5 years ago and has really stuck with me.
Some 20 years ago I use to catch the same train every morning to London. I sat in the same carriage, same seat and with the same people. Some 20 years on I have managed to escape the feeling of ‘ground hog day’ and widened my travel experiences. However about 5 years ago I had to attend a meeting in London (during the summer) that meant I had to catch the same train I had been catching 20 years ago.
I sat in the same carriage, same seat with almost the same people, the only difference was we were all older and greyer. After about 5 stops an elderly gentleman got on the train with a carrier bag, wearing shorts and sandals. Everyone, including myself, was looking at and focused on the small screen we were holding in our hands reviewing the World Wide Web of gossip.
The old man stood in the middle of the carriage and asked ‘what’s wrong with people these days, don’t you talk to each other anymore?’. Everyone including myself looked away from our screens for 2 seconds, gave the old man a strange look and then continued with our fascination of the small screen in our hands.
On reflection the old man had a point. Humans are naturally sociable animals and need the interaction of others. So why is it that we are so ‘tied’ to these small screens?
Mental illness is becoming more prominent in our lives and there is increasing evidence that using ‘social’ media is part of the problem. I know very unsociable people who have become more social due to a keyboard and very sociable people who seem to have disappeared behind one.
I have also read many articles that talk about people who are a part if a team yet feel alone if they are not part of the right WhatsApp group, Yammer or Facebook group.
So my question to you is; ‘What is your view on our use of IT for social interaction in the workplace?’ It is important to consider how much we are using IT and understand whether or not it may be replacing face to face interactions between employees.
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