.........................Back to Here?
I heard a great interview yesterday about Netiquette with Daniel Post (descendent of the famous Emily Post). He stressed a couple of critical points: 1) That etiquette is really about the relationship(s) it serves, which should be the guiding force behind the choices we make (useful since it can be hard to make hard and fast rules about whether phones should or should not be used in certain contexts) 2) That all generations have something to learn from the others about appropriate use of technology: Millennials can benefit from Boomers’ awareness of tradition and greater life experience, but Boomers can also learn from Millennials some of the ways in which people value and use their time differently, which suggests different communication choices (including a strong preference for texts over voicemails and always sending a text with directions when possible). This is useful, since it's easy to praise technology for all its done for us or bemoan how bad social interaction has gotten without learning much.
During the interview, Daniel made commented on the now-frequent occurrence of people, in a social or business gathering, all simultaneously using their hand-held devices. He said that it reminds him of the stage in child development where children engage in parallel play. Parallel play is the point in development where kids play next to each other, and tend to be interested in what the other is doing without actually interacting. He was in favor of the use of technology in fostering relationships but noted that, while parallel play is good, there is a sophistication involved in interactive play that should not be lost.
It’s worth noting that we adults have gotten to that sophisticated level. So when we “opt out” of interactive play in favor of parallel activities, we’re regressing. Which isn’t always a bad thing….but it’s good to be aware of what we’re doing, and what relationships we’re serving in the process. Do we actually want to be parallel playing when we could be playing interactively? Or are we just slaves to technology?