Technology and Emotional Connection

How does technology lead to emotional connection us and how does it fail us?

“I think we’re talking about different aspects of connection. How about
distinguishing between three aspects of being “connected” that technology may or may nit help with:

length – how far away geographically and temporally you can keep a
connection – to be “in touch” without literally being in touch.

width – how many people you can keep connected with and to what extent in terms of exchanging information.

depth – the degree of intimacy and trust in a relationship. Depth of emotional connection.

I’d contend that technology is very good at the first two types of connection, and yes I love my blackberry like I could not love a human child 🙂 It’s also crap at the last one, and we tend to collapse all three areas together of we’re not careful which is why the modern world can feel unsatisfying. As I mentioned Tuesday, when I was involved in peacebuilding work – we found that language, especially over distance was rubbish at getting people to see each other as human beings (rather than “them”, “Jews” etc). Physical practices were much better. This is why armies march together, lovers dance and I bet that 90% of the people you feel closest too are people you either lived in close proximity to (family/colleagues) or have done physical practices with (aikido/sex/dance).Think of the connection that builds in a week of aikido Summer Camp, let alone in an environment like the favela slums where people are mutually dependant and living on top of one another – that’s depth, and building length and width can help to some degree with it, but I know from Internet dating that 10min dancing with a girl helps me get to know her much better than 10 e-mails.”

This online dialogue between myself, Tom Hume and others started with a cheerful question about death and is worth a look if you’re interested in how people connect, and how people get helped and hindered by technology. Tom is an old friend who leads Future Platforms a leading new media company that connects people through technology. I connect people through the body. We speak enough of each other’s languages that we can connect these two very different worlds. The implications for business and relationships are far reaching.


Technology So What: There are different types of connection, some of which technology is great at and some for which bodily practices are necessary.