High tech and high touch
- Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - March 24, 2013 - 12:00am

 â€œI fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.”

Guess who said these words? No less than Time magazine’s Man of the Century Albert Einstein.

I’m afraid that day has come, and it has just begun.

How many of us feel anxious, edgy and nervous when we leave the house and forget to bring our smart phones with us? Don’t we go back to the house just to get it? As for the more affluent, don’t they send their drivers back to the house just to get the phone? I feel the same way when I walk into an establishment, and they tell me they don’t have any WiFi connection!

You and I are being ruled over by technology. We’re now living in the “Always On” civilization.

A recent study of 200 students in Stanford University reveals that 34 percent rated themselves as addicted to their phones, while 32 percent worry that they would someday be addicted. You might be saying, “No, I’m not addicted to technology.” Really? Be honest with me now and tell me: How many times do you check your phone throughout the day? How many text messages do you receive every day? How many do you send out? Have you never experienced that sick, uneasy feeling when you’ve discovered (to your horror) that you haven’t received any text message or call, or that no one has written down anything in your Facebook wall, since you last checked some 20 minutes ago?

Not convinced yet that you’re addicted? Here’s another question: where do you keep your cell phone at night when you go to bed? On your night stand, within an arm’s reach, where a book used to be its occupant? You need the phone as your alarm clock, you rationalize. Granted. But notice, after six to eight hours of network deprivation called “sleep,” you wake up and are more likely to reach out for your cell phone (or laptop) than to attend to your morning biological urges.

Look at the line behind counters. What are people doing? They’re texting or calling or just staring on their cell phone screen. Go to any fine-dining restaurant. What are people doing? They’re seated across each other, texting or calling or just staring on their cell phone screen. Look at office meetings. What are people doing? While someone is doing a presentation, many others are peering down at their lighted cell phone screen. Phones aren’t just for making calls or sending out messages anymore; they’re now used to kill time and so much more. One of which – and this is a phenomenon old-generation people like me can’t quite understand – is to take pictures of the food people are about to eat. It used to be that people pray before they eat; now people take pictures first before they eat!

My latest book, Famealy Matters, a collaborative work with Monde Nissin, in their advocacy of spending family dinner time daily, features 50 stories of leaders and achievers on the valuable lessons they learned around the dining table with their family. Last March 16, the book received an Anvil Award for Excellence; Monde Nissin’s advocacy also received a similar award. One of the best take-aways of the book is imposing a certain rule during family dinners. The rule contains just two words: No Gadgets! After all, dinner time isn’t just for eating, but also for engaging family members in meaningful conversations. Dinner time becomes communion time when ideas are exchanged, and bonds are made over food and drinks in the most affectionate way.

Yes, this is a high-tech world we live in, but we should never forego “high touch” especially with our family. Face time is always more important than screen time.

We use technology, and we should never allow technology to use us.

(Develop your leadership skills and spend two whole days with Francis Kong, as he facilitates the well-acclaimed Dr. John C. Maxwell Program “Developing The Leader Within You” on April 25-26 at the EDSA Shangri-La Hotel. For further inquiries, contact Lylee at 09175482876, or call 632-6310912 for details.)


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