Monthly Archives: January 2014

Isolated but Connected

My wife and I have had an ongoing discussion concerning whether our ever connecting technology actually isolates us or connects us with others. My wife’s view is that technology isolates people because it precludes interpersonal interaction with others. Does technology interfere with people learning social skills and interacting with a diverse group of individuals? So the question is this: Does social networking isolate or connect individuals to other individuals? The answer to this, like so many others is, Yes. And if they do connect, is it a real connection?

Certainly, those individuals that are already uncomfortable with interpersonal relations can find a retreat in communicating over a social network. It allows them to communicate, connect but reduces the practice they need to be comfortable around others. Some very outgoing people love the social networking because it increases their influence. Although it may allow some people to avoid personal contact. I think there are many ways that technology keeps us connected. We can now connect to relatives that in the past, we only saw at weddings or funerals, or those that live far away. We can keep connected with our loved ones throughout the day with fast messaging.

And then there are those that stay connected. They want us to know where they are at all times, what they are doing and even what they are eating, I am glad that they are that excited about their life.

My stance is that people who wish to isolate themselves find the internet and social media a useful tool to be by themselves and yet have a window on the world. Which in my mind, is better than just isolation without connection, even without personal interaction.

So what do you think? Does social networking isolate or create real connections?

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Two Sides

My mother was deaf. Her deafness came as a result of whooping cough when she was just three years old. She had worked for my father as a housekeeper. He would leave her instructions by leaving notes on the kitchen table. She had only learned finger spelling when she went to school at the Rochester School for the Deaf. She learned sign language much later. My father had never bothered to learn finger spelling or sign language. Even as I was growing up, he continued to leave written notes if I was not around to translate for him. My mother taught me to read early. So as soon as I became somewhat proficient at spelling, I took on the role of interpreter for my mother. I wasn’t always happy in the role then, but now I really appreciate what it did for me. My role also made it easier for my father to communicate with my mother.

Along with regular interpretation, I also became the mediator between my parents in the midst of their arguments and disagreements. Each would try to win me to their side, all the while, I was translating between them. At the time, I feared siding with one side or the other for I did not want the anger to extend to me. But one important thing that I did learn was that there is always more than one side of an argument.

Any time more than one person is involved in anything, there is a chance of conflict. I listened to my mother’s reasoning. From her point of view, her stance made perfect sense. And many times, I could see her side of it. I would also listen to my father’s reasoning. From his point of view, his stance made perfect sense, too. I could see his side of it too. This occurred more often than not. My mother was right and my father was right. How can that be? Based on their own experiences, their own thoughts, their own values, and the information that they had at hand, they were both right – yet they disagreed. Many times, they disagreed passionately.

The majority of times, my father would simply acquiesce. Then what would confuse me was when he did, it made my mother even more upset. She wanted to win because she felt that she was right, not win because he simply gave in. It was yet another lesson for me to learn.

I try to be mindful that when someone disagrees with me, that they are not wrong but merely hold a different viewpoint than mine. That is all that it means, that we think differently. I believe true communication happens when we are allowed to share viewpoints between each other and move towards a common ground. Even if we agree to disagree, it is an excellent learning opportunity.

‘If I do not believe as you believe, it proves that you do not believe as I believe and that is all it proves.’ – Amish Wisdom

It isn’t always about right or wrong, sometimes it means just different ways of thinking and holding differing opinions. If there were only one side to an argument, then it wouldn’t be an argument. I surely hope your arguments are few and your communication is rich. Take care.