How Technology is Changing Our Communication Habits

I was a great pen pal. Younger readers may have no idea what I’m talking about, but prior to computer email—YES before even the Internet—I wrote handwritten letters. Sending letters via postal mail service was the cheapest way to stay in contact with friends around the country. Yes, there was also a time when long distance phone calls were too expensive for everyday use. And *gasp* you had to use a land line, attached to a wall, in your house to make the call. Oh the agony of having only one phone per household.

That’s the amazing thing about today’s technology. We have so many ways to stay in constant contact with the folks we know anywhere in the world. Letters have been replaced by email, which has given way to social media outlets like Facebook, Google+ & Twitter. Mobile technology allows us to connect on the go, and cell phones are accessible to almost anyone.

However, technology has changed more than just how we stay in contact; it’s changing our communication habits. Raise your hand if you’ve done any of the following:

  1. Watched a movie, read an ebook, sent texts, talked on the phone in public.
  2. Checked your favorite social media channel while at the movies.
  3. Actively sent texts during a work meeting.
  4. Actively sent texts to someone while talking to someone else.
  5. Sent a Facebook message, tweet, or text to tell someone you emailed them.
  6. Texted your spouse, your kids, your parents for something while at home.
  7. Texted them while you’re in the same room.
  8. Talked on the phone or sent texts while driving—STOP THAT!

Some of the items above could be seen as bad social etiquette, the last one item #8 is a serious topic for another blog post. I see the above behavior a lot, and probably have committed more than one offense myself. With this seeming need/desire to be in constant contact I often wonder,

Why in this technological age of connectivity do we seem more disconnected?

Now, I am making a very general observation. Certainly, technology has played an important part in revolutionizing the way we communicate. Look no farther than the impact Twitter had on uprisings in the Middle East in 2011. What I am specifically referring to is the change in face-to-face communication, and how we interact in live social settings as families & friends. I see more folks plugged in and tuned out to the world around them. I thought this Xmas card that circulated the Internet last year a great summary of modern day communication.

(citation needed)

The changes I see go far beyond having our noses buried in our digital devices. How many folks can relate to the following statements?

  1. You have over 100 friends on Facebook, but you’ve never talked to your neighbors.
  2. Your relationship status isn’t “real” until it’s posted on Facebook.
  3. You have proposed or broken up with a text message.
  4. You communicate in the office with instant messaging even though your cubes are side-by-side.
  5. Your life is on your phone, to lose it would be the end of the world.
  6. If it were you trapped on a remote island, not Tom Hanks, you’d freeze to death.

OK, so maybe item #6 is also a separate blog post. Prior to technology becoming part of the mainstream those behaviors might have been limited to tech-savvy geeks, but it’s becoming more the norm as each generation is born amongst advancing technologies.

I’m not ranting against change, nor am I unwilling to accept this cultural evolution. I’m merely making observations as a digital immigrant adapting in a world growing with digital natives.

How do you think technology is affecting our social interactions & communications?

Year End Thanks for 2011

Whew! Have you ever had a moment that REALLY kicked your ass? Has that moment ever lasted an entire year? 2011 seems to have been that year for a lot of folks I know. I can’t recall a time (including 2008) where every aspect of my life simultaneously became a stress point. If 2011 is the year that tested us, then 2012 promises to be the reward for facing those challenges head on.

The year had its highs & lows, and I wanted to take a moment to recognize some folks who have helped me so that I can be there to help you:

J Schuh – you may know him as The Texas Animator, I know him as my best friend & partner in all things creative. Despite his incredible reputation, he deserves even more recognition for his talent & humanity. Look for me to rock out some cool stuff with J in 2012.

Glyn Dewis – my best mate who I haven’t seen since we met at Photoshop World eons ago. You might say we’re 21st century “pen pals”. He might be across the pond, but he’s been a far truer friend than folks I know right here in town.

TipSquirrel – the only person who has ever promoted everything I do without so much as a poke from me. If I were seeking a manager, he would be my guy. He’s been a constant source of support, asked or not. Coming from someone who spends a lot of time helping other people it’s nice to be on the receiving end.

Kevin Ames – my only regret is we didn’t become friends sooner. Kevin is a great mentor, confidant, and truly an inspiration behind a camera. I’m a better person knowing him.

John Pozadzides – to be successful you need to emulate successful people. I’m sure a lot of people think they can do what John “P” does, but truly they wouldn’t be as successful. A chance meeting in Vegas at Photoshop World led to some good conversations, and a whole lot of education on my part. John’s been a great friend to my family, generously lending his time & resources as I’ve built my podcast.

Darryl Briggs – the man behind the DFW Photography Club knows you can’t have a successful video podcast without a place to host the show. Darryl believed in my YouTube channel before I ever recorded an episode. He helped get the show started and was a huge support this past year keeping the episodes on schedule for you. When I was running on empty Darryl was always there.

Justin SeeleyI wrote it in a comment on Justin’s blog a few weeks ago, and I’ll say it again — Justin is the reason I have a YouTube channel today. Justin’s the same great guy I met at Photoshop World several years ago, minus a few pounds. He understands that building community stems from a commitment to the needs of others more than yourself.

Dee Sadler – was one of the first to recognize my contributions to the Adobe community. One of the most intelligent ladies I know, she’s the force behind the D2WC conference.

Zig Baird – the man behind this site, Zig is The WP Guy. Sure, I’m technically inclined, but the challenge of growing your business is keeping up with all the growth. Zig has been HUGE part of keeping AJWOOD.COM running, and he’ll continue to roll out improvements in 2012.

Brian Sullivan – I enjoy the fact that Brian believes I’m cooler than I actually am. He’s been a great motivator, a tremendous support and he opened the door to new opportunities this year. The face of Big(D)esign, I’m thankful that he saw things in me I had forgotten about.

Giovanni Gallucci – the first person to say my show sucked when everyone else said it was awesome, and I’ve got a better show because of that.

Dave Curlee – you can’t see the stuff Dave does, but it’s evident every time I upload a new episode of I Create Content. He is my go-to guy for video, podcasting & other AV knowledge. This year he was also my rock of Faith.

John Hays – a former student who has become a good friend & colleague, John is someone who looks to change the world one personal connection at a time. He reminds me of Tom Cruise in Cocktail as his passion for personal development extends beyond his own needs, and he generously gives his time to others. He’s been a sounding board for ideas, and is a class act.

Gene McCullagh – a top Lightroom expert, the leader of the DFWAUG, Gene has been one of my longest supporters in Dallas. Many in his position could have seen me as a threat, but he embraced me as a colleague & friend. He consistently promotes the fact that I do actually get paid to teach, and has helped keep my talents in front of people who needed them.

David Ziser – David’s work inspired me long before we became friends. I admire his business savvy, and the longevity of his wedding photography is as much a testament to that as is his talent. His wife LaDawn is such a gracious lady, and I’ve appreciated her encouragement in my endeavors.

Thanks to Paul Goodman for allowing me the use of his photos from the Photo Pro Network Summer event this past July.

I’m blessed to know so many wonderful people, and I’m thankful to call them friends. I know there are others who are not as fortunate to have a support system, or fail to recognize the one they have.

In 2012 I’ll be spotlighting folks who not only inspire me, but those I think will serve as creative inspiration for you my loyal readers. If I’ve learned anything from this year it’s that you should live every moment possible AND you should have folks to share in those moments.

My Sister the Punk Rocker Coach on MTV’s MADE

If you’re a fan of my website, then you already know about my sister Lesli. To say she’s a superstar is an understatement. My sister is a force of nature, unbridled, and calling the shots since she was 12yrs old. She’s proof that Gary V isn’t the only person who’s been in tune with their DNA since childhood. If you live in Seattle than you might know her as the “Punk Rock Attorney”. That’s right, when she’s not rockin’ out the clubs on tour, she’s kickin’ ass in the courtroom.

People ask me all the time, “Why in the hell do you work so hard?” There’s your answer.

My sister recently appeared on MTV’s MADE where she helped transform a fresh highschool chick into a punk rocker. See the episode below.

Here’s Lesli Covering Depeche Mode

Lesli used to perform with the band Ms Led

Lesli with her current band The Redwood Plan

The Redwood Plan “Push” at Bumbershoot 2010