Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Are We Losing the Fine Art of Face-to-Face Communication

Social Networking - Is it as effective of a marketing tool as we think, or are we simply evolving into beings that avoid real face to face communication?I've shuffled around awhile.  Without telling you my exact age, I will explain that I'm a pre-boomer, pre-gen-x, and just about pre anything that is left shuffling around at all.

When I was a kid, we had a phone that was on a "party" line.  Party lines weren't something you dialed an "800" number for and had billed by the minute to your credit card.  They were phone lines you shared with a few other phone company customers.  You hoped that when you needed to phone, someone else wasn't already on the line.

In 1983 when my first computer, an Apple IIE, was purchased, I had a grandson, just 2½ years old, who showed me how to use the keyboard arrow keys to make Jill jump over Jack in a game, on the computer screen.  I was amazed.   Not that the computer could do that, in the old pre Windows 3.1 environment; but that my grandkid already knew how to make it work.

So it has been with the advancement of computers, the internet, newsgroups, Facebook, blogs, and The Twitter (as Betty White calls it).

It was easy for us to embrace the idea of computers in the real estate industry.  After all, in the early years of my career, 29 years ago, the MLS was something we received in book form, delivered to our office, once a week on Saturdays.  I can still remember the antiquated first MLS computer with the Microfiche sitting on the counter, right next to it.

In 1981, there were virtually no agents with cell phones, and I believe I may have been one of the first Sacramento agents, if not the first agent, to get a pager.  I needed to feel connected.  Not so much for clients, but for my kids.
With email, we discovered the delight of communication, which was less intrusive.  We could time manage email.  We only needed to talk to people when WE wanted to!

There's been a whole new lingo which has originated from texting.  I'm wondering if the average citizen less than 40 years old, can construct a proper sentence any longer.  Everything is in a staccato shorthand version of life, being transported unseen, across the planet in milliseconds.

I sometimes wonder how we folks, that use Facebooking, Tweeting, and blogging all the time, have any real time managing our business.  I attended a wedding recently.  I heard two cell phones go off during the ceremony.   And during the reception, many folks couldn't seem to manage a complete sentence at the dinner, without being compelled to answer a text message, or cell call.  This was on a Saturday night.  Most everyone we knew was at the wedding.  And usual business hours were over.

Perhaps we are taking the easy way out.  Rather than picking up the phone to do a little old fashioned networking, which could subject us to rejection, we compose and send endless social networking tweets and posts instead.

Have we lost the fine art of face-to-face communication?  I'm curious what you think about the direction communication has taken and which we seem so compelled to follow.  What are your thoughts?