Over the past week here in Richmond, and up the east coast, we have experienced both an earthquake and a hurricane. At the present time, I’m still without power at home. Needless to say, I had a lot of time to watch people and a lot of time to think over the past couple of days.
The first thing that I noticed is that earthquakes and power outages very quickly force people outside. And with this, comes interaction between people. If you were in Richmond over the past seven days, you probably went outside at some point, and you probably spoke to a person from a next door office, or a neighbor that you may have never met before. Striking up a conversation you may have otherwise never had. Human interaction is refreshing and almost important at times like these. It also provides common ground to people who previously may have had none.
For instance, what if the cynical basement blogger, fresh off last weeks post about his horrible neighbor that wakes up at 5am and loudly mows his lawn, is forced out of his powerless home only to find that same neighbor there to help lift a fallen tree off of his moped. After conversing for the first time, our blogger friend has a different outlook of the previously disliked neighbor.
The point is, people stand to gain a lot from meeting face to face. Have you ever talked to someone on the phone many times, strictly about business, then finally meet them in person and come away with a friend you never anticipated? People are becoming increasingly closed in these days, with the internet doing everything it can to make sure that all things can be accomplished without moving from in front of your computer screen. Unfortunately, a lot is being lost from this.
For example, sure, there are advantages to having meetings over the internet. You can save a lot of money by getting everyone to log in from wherever they are and “attend,” they also will lose minimal time out of their busy days. But, what about the in-person meetings? Where the audience engages and creates dialogue that would have been lost. Then the breakouts from these meetings, where coworkers can become friends and share ideas about work and life. Finding similarities with coworkers helps them feel like they aren’t alone and are actually a part of something, which leads to stronger company.
Now we get to trade shows and events. Where people are put together, that otherwise would not be standing in front of one another. You have a real conversation with the person you’ve been trying to cold call for six months. You chat it up with the VP that you knew only from conference calls. You even get ideas from clients, competitors and industry partners. None of this was going to happen on the phone or on the internet.
In the end, most seem to recognize this. Watching a live band is better than listening to their album alone. Going to the movies is better than watching a Blu-ray. Being in the crowd at a sporting event is better than watching them at home on TV. Though it seems like there is opportunity to avoid human contact these days, all of the most memorable experiences from work and from life are not happening in front of the computer screen.
Author: Chase Howells
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