Earl Graves Sr. Had Something To Say: Cellphones, Text Messages And Social Media Has Devalued Personal Communication
We live in a world of mobile devices and social media, text messages and status updates.
It’s no doubt that Earl Graves Sr. was a forward thinking innovator, having established BLACK ENTERPRISE in 1970 for the greater good of the Black community. As a leader and family man, Mr. Graves reflected on the times. He drop gems around he’s observations of the ever changing world he lived in. Back in 2013, as technology and social media evolved, Mr. Graves recognized how communication and connection devolved and he had plenty to say.
Originally published Dec. 23, 2013:
We live in a world of mobile devices and social media, text messages and status updates. Thanks to amazing advancements in communication tools and technologies, we are sharing and accessing ever-increasing volumes of information.
We actually measure our communications influence over hundreds of thousands–even millions–of people, around the globe. However, in all the ways that matter to developing quality personal and business relationships, many of us are more disconnected than ever. We communicate more then everyone, but we are losing our sense of genuine connection with others. This bodes ill for our relationships, both business and personal.
Before you dismiss this perspective as merely the typical lamentations of the generation that once thought of nationwide phone service as the epitome of communication technology, hear me out. I absolutely appreciate how advances in our ability to move information in larger volumes and faster than ever has helped to drive economies, transform industries, create new job and business opportunities, and even new wealth. In fact, such innovations made BLACK ENTERPRISE‘s evolution from a single magazine publisher to a multi-platform media company both possible and even inevitable. Though I don’t claim to understand or appreciate the nuances of social media, I am proud to know that BE is recognized among the best media companies at using its influence to serve and inform, dramatically extending the reach of our audiovisual, digital, and live event content.
However, it is important to recognize that phone texts with acronyms and emojis are poor substitutes for a handwritten note, a sincere hug, or a firm handshake. Moreover, our increasing reliance on texting and other less-than-personal communication has resulted in less civility, courtesy, and consideration of others. For example, too many people (including politicians, athletes, and other public figures) choose to publicly blast one another via Twitter or Facebook, rather than speak with one another directly to personally iron out their differences. We are becoming more detached even from our loved ones, as communication via cell phones and tablets replaces more intimate, engaged, and personal conversation, even at family reunions, vacations, and the dinner table.
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I often say that all business is personal, and that whoever builds the best relationships wins. Similarly, there can be nothing more important on your business agenda than establishing and maintaining healthy personal and family relationships and enjoying real communication with your loved ones. At the end of the day–or more to the point, at the end of your life–this is what truly matters. I am more convinced of this since the passing of my beloved wife, Barbara.
Social media and mobile communications are not going away, nor should they. But we can be wiser in our use of them. Let’s use them to facilitate, instead of replace, authentic personal communication in both our business and personal lives. Have more real conversations and fewer extended exchanges of text messages. Value opportunities to look people in the eye and really listen. Resist the urge to glance at your mobile device. Text fewer heart symbols; instead, call to say “I love you” more often.
When in the company of a friend, family member, or business associate, have the courage and wisdom to turn off your devices, if only for a few minutes. Honor your friend by being fully engaged and present. Trust me: the world won’t end. And all of us, especially you, will be the better for it.