Thursday, October 7, 2010

Technology brings us closer

I have heard on occasion that people fear that we lose our social connections by becoming too dependent on technology.  I guess that there is a certain element of truth to that, but is it not entirely dependent on the context?  I was watching a video Open and Connected and it raised a lot of good points.  I am going to put forward that technology actually brings us closer.

I am a child of immigrants.  My parents tell the story of my grand-father running alongside the train that was to take them on their journey and he ran alongside the train until he could go no further.  Planes were not as available as they are now.  When my parents came to Canada from Europe they came by boat.  My grand-father's fear was that he would rarely ever see his daughter again.  There would be an exchange of letters, but it would take weeks for the letters to arrive.  Phone calls were prohibitive because of the ridiculous costs.  It was not easy.

When I was younger I would see my French grand-parents about every 2nd summer, and that was with them coming here every once in a while.  I would talk to them every once in a while on the phone for a few brief minutes, always aware of the cost.  Birthday phone calls were a treat and I loved my Christmas calls as well.  I looked forward to the occasions when I could talk to them.  Eventually costs for flying came down so we started to see them every summer, alternating visits.

This is where technology comes in.  About 20 years ago my mom bought her parents a fax machine. Letters were transmitted instantly and letters flowed more freely.  It was great because I got news from my grand-parents much more quickly.  Just a little later when my grand-father was around 75 he decided that the old super 8 style movies that he was making just wasn't cutting it anymore and decided that it was time that he learned how to do digital video editing and he bought his first computer, which came, obviously, with email.  I was in touch with my grand-father so much more than ever and I developed a close relationship with him that I never had before.  Even though he lived 9 time zones away I felt as though he was very close.  Technology is what really allowed me to get to know him.  I no longer had to wait for special occasions to hear from him or wait a month to hear back when I wrote a letter.  Skype was just starting to come into prominence when he became ill, but if not I know we would have been having weekly conversations via Skype.

I am now connected via Facebook with 2 of my cousins in France, 1 cousin in New Zealand and another in San Francisco.  One of my aunts jokes around that I know more about her kids than she does because of Facebook.  I get to see regular updates as to how they are doing, see family pictures and stay in contact.  It allows my parents and my brother and sister to share family pictures much more easily than before.  Don't get me wrong, we talk by phone and see each other on a regular basis but we are much more connected as a result.  If we are online at the same time then we instant message each other and enjoy conversations that we would not normally have.

When one of my colleagues' son was off in Europe working they were in regular Skype conversations.  I found my godfather that I had not seen since I was around 1 because of the internet and I was able to re-establish that connection.  Through Twitter I have established great working connections and have begun to develop an amazing professional learning network.  Technology has brought us closer.  For me technology has made the world smaller and brought me into greater contact with my family and friends.  It has brought me closer to my family which is spread over 3 continents and I am grateful for that.

No comments:

Post a Comment