Monday, April 4, 2011

Down the wire

I've been reading and thinking about communication lately. I had an assignment to speak to an information professional, for instance, and I learned that intuition and communication were prized tools in management. It got me thinking about how I will apply what I'm learning in a corporate or academic environment, and what I can do to improve my own communication skills. For starters, I'm trying to keep up this blog with an average of 4 posts a month. That's the goal, anyway. Secondly, I joined Twitter, but to keep my freakout quotient down, so far I'm just following uni cohorts and library-related accounts.

I still get excited when there's a new e-mail in my box, like I used to when I got snail mail addressed to me. If you know anyone who's deployed, or is constantly relocated, correspondence is gold. I kept shoeboxes of letters sent from my penpals for years while my family was overseas. Now I just re-read my e-mails when I'm lonely or feeling out of touch, and it's not quite the same thing as seeing your friend's handwriting.

I rarely get anything in the mailbox now but bills, real estate ads and pizza coupons*, but I use my cell/mobile phone throughout the day. I'm sure I use it more for text messages, social media, and e-mail than actual phone calls. Sometimes I'm even surprised when it rings!

How about you? How do you like to communicate? Over a cup of tea, on the phone, with Skype? Do you think our communication skills have suffered under the influence of social media?

Should we be worried, or is this just a natural progression, and our skills are simply becoming more diverse? Is the immediacy of digital communication a bonus or just another way of tying us to our devices?

On a more contentious note - are your family members part of your online experience, or do you try to keep family and friends in separate spheres? How about the older generations in your family? Some of mine have e-mail and nothing else - I'm quite proud of them for learning that, but I still send paper cards for special occasions because an e-card just doesn't seem to cut it. Others don't even have a computer, and I admit I could be better at sending them letters to keep them in the loop.

Today on facebook I came across a survey that asked which 3 out of 100 websites I visited daily, and mine were facebook, Twitter and Gmail. It struck me that all three are related to communication... I suppose that shows I value keeping up with people. But how personal is personal communication when it's mostly text and intangible attachments?

*Edit - My family and close friends keep in touch via e-mail, Skype and facebook for the most part, but they also send me birthday and holiday cards and the occasional care package - often with chocolate.

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