It was bound to happen. As you know, I’m a recovering speedaholic and there are days when I fall off the wagon and do something too quickly. In our 24/7 world, we often feel the crush of the rush. It’s as if a little black cloud nestled above our right shoulder is whispering our doom if we don’t hurry up and finish. Hurry up and react. Hurry up, hurry up, hurry up!

But our inner tortoise says, “Hey, you! Slow down and breathe….”

So I sent out a notice on behalf of a client, then got an astonished response from them that I sent it already. It was supposed to go out tomorrow. They had hastily read their e-mail from me confirming the release date and agreed on Wednesday, although they were thinking Thursday.  But Thursday to me, who travelled 1,000 miles in the last  four weeks, meant last Thursday. And I thought I was late.

Turns out I was a day too early.

In the PR world, that’s heady stuff if you send out an announcement before it’s time. Like grounds for dismissal forever.

And whilst the black cloud to my right was telling me to hurry, my sweet and wise turtle was plodding unnoticed to my left.

But then the air cleared once the client admitted confusion and we all made up. In record time.

Instantaneousness can lead to heartache. That hasty e-mail sent without thought, the fierce text message dashed off without care, the flaming Facebook rant for all eyes to see.

We live in a transparent, harried world. My dear slow, I love you so. If I ever leave you again, you have my permission to give me a nudge.

Slowly, of course!

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A tag cloud (a typical Web 2.0 phenomenon in i...
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“Never write anything down that you wouldn’t be proud to show a nun,” my mother once advised me. Curious advice for a then seven-year-old, but she saw the sparks of my word-smithing passion early.

To divulge or not to divulge. That is the question in our Web 2.0 lives.

Lately I have been fascinated with the concept of our digital selves as social media and the notion of transparency continue to shape the public relations industry (of which I am a part). We reveal what seem to be our deepest secrets (I prefer dark chocolate) and stay in touch with people via Facebook that we haven’t seen in twenty-five years. We create a false sense of familiarity, as if we really know what’s going on with the other person, only to be shocked when we see that person in the flesh to realize all is not well in the State of Denmark.

In truth, through our online self-branding management efforts, we develop a pseudo-reality for ourselves and, along with it, pseudo-selves.

Roaming about as the avatars of our own creation, we have reached a Brave New World of information exchange at the highest (and lowest) level. But much of what gets belched broadcast out onto the Internet has the life of a match. It fizzles out of existence as quickly as it was written. All the while we self-soothe, thinking someone might be listening or care what we write. We yearn for connection and get it in some way ~ oftentimes through people we don’t know. We meet on a virtual plane for a passing moment at a cross-section in time that can be instanteneous or time-controlled, should we choose not to respond just yet.

I have ambivalent feelings about the very medium that has granted me much of the freedom to pursue my life’s work. The Internet is more powerful than most of us realize.

Despite its influence (or perhaps because of it) transparency and authenticity are great challenges in today’s 24/7 world. As a human race, we may be more connected than ever before, but our digital existence is merely a part of our greater selves.

Will our children realize there is a parallel universe beyond the screen? I am optimistic that they will.

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Remains of the Day

November 23, 2010

The Internet is a place of great complexity. You can be as close to someone in Shanghai via Skype as your partner in the next room. You can interact with someone via Email and have a sense of familiarity without ever hearing the person’s voice. You feel united with all of humanity without touching a soul.

I would argue that the very act of connection is touching our souls more than we think.

This morning I received the saddest news. The editor of several trade publications for which we have offered our PR client’s stories passed away. Did I know that he had cancer? No. Did I know that his email to me on October 21 would be our last ‘conversation’? Never.

It makes me sad that he is gone. I never really knew him. And perhaps it wasn’t meant to be that we would ever get to know one another beyond the “Great story. It will run next week” chat. But I sense a loss that is deep and surprising. And it causes me to reconsider how much we really ‘know’ about each other.

While I may be on the up and up about certain aspects of my friends’ and family’s lives via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I don’t really know how they are doing. Phone calls and Skype chats bring us closer, but nothing replaces the touch of a hand, a full-body hug and a smile. While we may be informed about certain things, the Internet lends us a false sense of security and intimacy.

Remember AT&T’s slogan, “Reach out and touch someone?” Perhaps it is time for us to do that in person. So go ahead and reach out, touch someone’s soul. If you can’t in person, give them a call, then listen ~ really listen to what the person is saying. You never know if it might be the last time.

What will you do with the remains of your day?

 

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