No technology remotely replicates in-person connections

Not email, voice mail, conference calls, video conferences, telephone conversations, letters even.                conference_call

Douglas Rushkoff, Present Shock, page 126:

In the real world, 94 percent of our communication occurs non-verbally. Our gestures, tone of voice, facial expressions, and even the size of our irises at any given moment tell the other person much more than our words do. There are the cues we use to gauge whether someone is listening to us, agrees with us, is attracted to us, or wants us to shut up. When a person head nods or his irises dilate, we know – even just subconsciously – that he agrees with us. This activates the mirror neurons in our brains, feeding us a bit of positive reinforcement, releasing a bit of dopamine, and leading us further down that line of thought.

Nassim Taleb, Antifragile, page 89:

Eye contact with one’s peers changes one’s behavior. But for a desk-grounded office leech, a number is just a number. Someone you see in church Sunday morning would feel uncomfortable for his mistakes – and more responsible for them. On the small, local scale, his body and biological response would direct him to avoid causing harm to others. On a large scale, others are abstract items; given the lack of social contact with the people concerned, the civil servant’s brain leads rather than his emotions – with numbers, spreadsheets, statistics, more spreadsheets, and theories.

No technology-enabled medium of communication replicates the in-person, face-to-face mode served up to us by millenia of evolution (or intelligent design, as you prefer). Choose your tools accordingly.

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