We are all learning the new rules of social behavior over the Internet, but it doesn’t change how we exist in the physical world.
Physical products shape the way that we interact with technology and technology changes the way that we interact with the world. The former we consider passé and opt to design interfaces that bare less and less resemblance to how we do things in the physical world.
The underlying issue is how we approach life both physically and digitally. Do we follow the societal rules that have been based on centuries of almost entirely non-digital experience? Or do we expand our thinking based on the limitless digital world? We’ve already done the latter in a number of areas of our lives. Access to information is no longer limited to the tangible sources that we have near us, rather it is limited to the proximity of the nearest smartphone and our will power.
As society enters a more and more connected world, we stumble and we see the real world effects of our digital actions. We’ve felt the embarrassment around our friends after we sent a vodka-garbled text. Our lies are foiled by our social media posts from the night before.
When we try to apply the rules of the digital world to the rest of our lives, our attempts sometimes don’t end up as successfully as we thought they would. You can’t press undo to fix the time that you moaned the wrong person’s name in bed. There is no trash file to drag all the memories you have with ex, and there is no way to block a person in real life.
The last example seems to be the most difficult for people who grew up in the digital age to understand. You can un-friend someone on Facebook. You can block someone on tinder. You can filter that one person’s emails to go straight to junk. But then three weeks later you’ll end up in line behind them at coat check. They will end up at the table next to you at brunch. You’ll reach for the same artichoke at the farmer’s market.
People don’t go away.
The digital world fools us into thinking that we have control over the people around us. This is an area that the issue of how to approach life comes into play. Do we press send on that brash email and hope that we never see the person again? Or do we think twice, remove a couple four letter words, and put civil discourse ahead of our feelings?
We’re human. We make mistakes and we do things that don’t make sense. We are developing new technologies so rapidly that every day we are solving as many problems as we are creating. At the end of the day though we’re stuck with the people around us. There’s no off button for your coworkers and no save for later button for the problems in the real world. When it comes to interacting with the world digital or physical, it’s best to take a moment and apply a layer of humanity. Till death do us part applies not just to marriage but to all of the connections in your life.
Author Chris Wyman is a modern day renaissance man, a philosopher and a reality sculptor. He believes in living a deliberate life of dreams actualized.
Hand holding and touching smart phone with blank screen, side view on dark background image courtesy of shutterstock.