Well, I survived my birthday yesterday — not that I did anything really out of the ordinary. But I did experience something that made me think about the nature of relationships and conversations these days — in the workplace and in social settings.
Throughout the day I received a number of extremely kind — and thoughtful, really — birthday wishes from friends on Facebook. And when I say friends I really mean it — mainly former students — now young professionals — and others who I met during my time teaching public relations at Kent State.
What struck me was not just the kindness or the willingness to take a minute or so to send a message — but how we establish and maintain friendships and other relationships these days, particularly in the workplace.
I don’t believe I have written — or received — a personal letter in years. That’s a shame.
Phone calls? Nah, not many. Almost none related to work. We’ve become an e-mail society where we feel better about knocking out a quick — and sometimes rude and unintelligent — message rather than pick up the phone and actually engage someone in a conversation.
And many — myself included — now work primarily from home, although the actual numbers here are pretty squishy. That means we by necessity rely more on computers and technology. Hard to stop by someone’s office when the office might be miles (states?) away.
Still, I wonder if this lack of direct contact and personal conversations isn’t contributing to a sense of isolation — which perhaps explains some of the attraction of Facebook, Twitter and so on. We/I can join those venues all day or when convenient and establish or maintain some level of contact and relationships — although admittedly not direct ones.
And I’m not alone. Here’s an interesting article from the online version of the WSJ that argues that the e-mail era is waning, soon to be replaced by Facebook and Twitter messaging and so on.
We’ll see. I’m convinced that we will never return to the workplace that I experienced at Goodrich — wading through stacks of snail mail, writing handwritten notes and typing letters, making and answering phone calls, and getting up every once in awhile and strolling into someone’s office to kill time, spread rumors and so on.
Kind of miss some of that, actually.
Although I’ll admit to enjoying the comments from friends on Facebook yesterday.
OK. Better get to work — and sign on to Facebook and Twitter so I can see what is going on.