Decent conversation
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - October 21, 2018 - 12:00am

While waiting for my flight to Cebu one morning, I could not get me a table and chair inside the Mabuhay Lounge. I had to wait for others to board their planes before a seat or a table would be made available.  That was when I was greeted by my long-time friend Sammy. I don’t know why but we tend to meet in the lounge every now and then. Sammy is one of the nicest and kindest people. He works with a food company and together with his associate, he offered me an empty seat on their table, and I took it. 

Sammy uses a gaming laptop for his work while his associate uses a regular one. I had to fly to Cebu early in the morning to do a leadership training for a client and then immediately fly back to Manila in the evening. We had at least an hour and a half of waiting, and we conversed for no more than 2 minutes all throughout our waiting time, including the pleasantries. We were all glued to our screens. They were doing their work, I was writing articles and polishing my lessons. I asked Sammy why he was using a gamer’s laptop he said he normally gets hundreds of emails daily and he wanted a device that loads fast and can store more data. 

When it was time for me to board, I stood up, shook both their hands, grabbing my bag and jacket. As I was leaving the table, I looked at both of them and said, “thank you for offering the seat but don’t you guys wish that we can go back to the good old days when we can all sit down and have a decent piece of conversation?” We all laughed and we know that those good old days are gone. 

So many things to do. So many tasks to perform. Technology promised to make our lives easier, lessen our work load and make us more productive. But, it failed to deliver that promise. Technology increased our capability to do more, and more is expected from us at a shorter time expected for delivery. 

Technology changes everything. It enables manufacturers to produce stylish, faddish, quick and disposable fashion. Fashion now is defined as “The art of becoming.” The speed and frequency of the style changes has shaped us to consume more such that we no longer “wear” fashion, but “consume” it. Consumerism means “to devour” or, hence, to “consume.” Gadgets, devices, those new shiny objects and the accoutrements of life have made us accept the norm that without them, we are not as good as the ones who have them. Perhaps this is why technology, while undeniably has improved many areas of our lives, have likewise created new “divides”:

1. The have’s

2. The have not’s

3. And the have-not-paid-for-what-they-have’s

It seems like our worth today is measured by the quantity and quality of the stuff we consume, and it has brought a lot of depression. Consumerism is not good for the soul.

Technology has democratized information. Anyone online can opine, cuss, curse and bash. Others have taken the opportunity to promote themselves and project expertise in their quest to earn money and fame by becoming “Thought Leaders” or “Social Media Celebrities.”

The proliferation and volume of information causes INATTENTION, and many people today are suffering from INFORMATION BIAS. Words, therefore, is suffering from INFLATION. When more and more is available, then less and less is valuable. T.S. Eliot said: “Where is the wisdom that comes from knowledge? Where is the knowledge that comes from information?

Seems like everybody is now speaking with no one listening, or at least listening with the intention to understand. With the sheer volume of information, sources have no choice but to hurl them to us in tiny dashes, big bold headlines and 3 or fewer paragraphs to present its entire story, and these have rendered many people with the inability to think, causing the inability to shift from information to knowledge, and from knowledge to wisdom. We call this “progress” but perhaps, the word itself has to be qualified.

I long for the days when I have the time to sit down across the table and converse with Sammy who is a nice guy possessed with plenty of wisdom and life experience (he doesn’t even know I am writing about him). I recommend that companies should encourage their people to refrain from “emailing” or “chatting” across the cubicles but to have honest to goodness conversation. Having a “friend” is not just a thumbs-up sign in a social media platform, but warm bodies that you can converse and laugh with. There will be less cussing and cursing and fakery but more manners, respect and understanding without ever having to worry about how many “followers” one has.

Are those days gone? Is this the price of progress? How would I know? But I wonder how things will develop when 5G comes around.

Meanwhile, I am going to regularly converse with the Ilocana over a cup of coffee and gather all my kids after church and have an old-fashioned family meal and really converse!

(Join Francis Kong as he presents a whole-day learning event this November 10, 2018 entitled: “Culture of Personal Excellence from 10:00AM to 5:00PM at the beautiful Santolan Town Plaza, Little Baguio, San Juan. Limited seats available. For further inquiries contact April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at www.successoptionsinc/cpe)

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