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Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Irony Of Connectivity

Taking the elevator down to our building lobby, with about 7 people crammed into a small box just a little roomier than an extra large coffin - now there's a jinx-laden image - I noticed one unmistakable fact.

Everyone was hunched and huddled over their Blackberry, iPhone and Samsung Note.

You could argue that this was an effect of violation of personal space - that having this much in-your-face contact in such a confined space readily lent into this behavior, looking elsewhere but at another stranger's face - but these people were already busy "connecting" with "other people" before they got on the elevator.

It got me to thinking about how ironic a situation we have right now.

More than ever, we stay "connected" - social media, push emails, phone alerts, we've accepted "tweeting" as a verb. But I cannot escape the fact that these advances and innovations in communications have succeeded largely in making us avoid face to face, actual human contact altogether.

Prior to my elevator ride, I was heading out the door when a phone call came and I picked it up, and to my utter surprise, I was talking to no one.

Because a recorded message played as soon as I said "hello".

"Hi, this is PLDT. We want to inform you, as a loyal subscriber, of our new promotions..."

I hung up.

Will we be eliminating human relations services in the near future? I never thought that the scene from futuristic movies would be playing out before my very eyes - or ears - right now: Human "surrogates" taking the place of actual human voices and live reactions.

I can see the advantage of this phenomenon from a business cost and overhead perspective: it will obviously save up on having to undergo a hiring process, having to orient new employees, worrying about benefits of those newly hired as well as their salaries, space considerations in the workplace, zero possibility of complaints from dissatisfied "team members", and so much more.

But what is the cost in terms of what this is doing to relating to each other on a level that requires us to know each other, even if for a mere blink in time?

You see, when I talk to an operator, they get to understand why I am frustrated on a particular service that their company is not living up to despite their promise. When I tell a waiter or manager in person that their food was impeccable and I see their relief and even happiness at receiving praise, it confirms that everyone needs others to validate their work.

I dread the day when actual human conversations and relations will be altogether, summarily replaced with cost efficient methods, machines and automations.

Have we forgotten the potency of what a singular human act can do? Are we on the way there?

(Photo courtesy of

Now I have to find my beloved for a hug.


  1. Nice post! Your observations are apt, but I, like you, am hoping that the conclusions are wrong:)

    1. Let's hope so. I make it a point to take time to relate to people, even the ones who take my order. I find this little shift - example, not talking to them as mere order-takers - makes the experience more pleasurable for everyone.