Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Human 2.0

Almost 22 years of my career have been spent doing some form of digital communications with a large portion of it involving the Internet. To say it is a big part of my life is an understatement.

However, events of the past six months have me contemplating the role of this digital world in our lives. Personally, it has been a time of loss and learning - in March my mom passed away in South Africa and with it, my last biological connection to the generation before me. Recently my daughter graduated and moved to the west coast of the continent - about as far as possible from home while still staying within Canada.

Like any proud parent I recently posted her graduation pictures online with my sister's immediate response: "Mom would so have loved to see these. She always studied them so intently whenever you emailed pictures."

The loss of a human connection suddenly hit me - the digital connection that spanned a 11,000 km continental divide reached its limit. No wireless signal or fiber optic cable could bring back the comfort of someone who always silently cheered me on. Neither can Skype or a text message produce a good night hug from my daughter at the end of a day.

This past Christmas I spent recuperating after my first experience of fairly serious illness. For the first time, three of our four children spent Christmas away from home and many of our closest friends celebrated with family in far away places.

In hospital, a Blackberry was my connection with the outside world at a time when everyone frantically decorated homes, bought and wrapped gifts, and filled the kitchen with the smells of Christmas. I managed one-handed status updates and brief emails but when I finally recovered at home, experienced one of the most disconnected times of my life.

"So, what then is the point of this sentimental blog?" you may ask.

It is about a realization that web 2.0 and its much praised social networking is not all that social after all. Despite all that I created through my digital connections, it is a miserable replacement for Human 2.0 - a touch, a smile, a warm heart and a sincere "You Go Girl!"

1 comment:

TA Loeffler said...

Yes, sometimes virtual and actual connection are thousands of miles apart and other times they are in the same room. As someone who has emailed you when you were sitting in the same room and from mountain tops far around the world, I've both appreciated the strengths of the internet and it's potential for connecting. But I also know there is absolutely no substitute for a Christmas tree delivery or someone to sit quietly by our sides in times of need. Here's a virtual soon (I hope) to be followed up by a real hug.