When a crisis hits like the recent Hurricane Sandy, social media becomes even more important and provides a way to mass communicate to friends and family, find out breaking information, and gives the ability to share details in real time, especially when the lights go out. As we witnessed on the East Coast this week, much of the communication during the storm happened via Twitter and Facebook, and on mobile devices. It’s hard to imagine what we did before.
But with so many without power, it does force us to use real human interactions to communicate -- neighbors meeting each other, helping one another out, sharing generators, and more - and to get through this trying time.(Photo credit: http://www.shutterstock.com)
Today’s technology allows us to be connected everywhere we go—but does it simultaneously disconnect us from our real surroundings? Our devices have an impact on social interactions and business communications. The rapidly increasing integration of technology into society has altered the way we interact on a daily basis, and it’s important to be aware of its implications. Even “the telephone call is a dying institution…Americans ages 18-29 send and receive an average of nearly 88 text messages per day, compared to 17 phone calls.” 
While seated in my big comfy chair at a coffee shop recently, I noticed a husband and wife walk in, holding hands. When they sat at the table, however, both individuals took out their iPhones and spent the entire visit on their phones. Once, at a nice Italian restaurant I watched a family of three during their meal. The father on his Blackberry, the mother on her iPad, and the son listening to music—for the whole meal, not one word was spoken except to the waiter.
Are you using technology to communicate with someone while ignoring a real human connection face-to-face? Of course making this substitution can be perceived as rude. However, it is important to look at communication technology as a means to an end. If we are using technology in order to arrange a face-to-face meeting, how could that be bad? If being able to communicate with someone even when they are not anywhere nearby brings you closer together, technology can be viewed as something that nurtures relationships, not creates distance within them.
Face-to-face meetings in business are ideal for productivity and clear communication, but how often is something less personal used as a replacement for a face-to-face meeting? With today’s technology, we may be losing the art of real conversation as we slip further into our devices as mean of communication. Effective conversation is critical to effective business. When used correctly, technology can nurture our communication abilities and teach us important lessons about making the right impressions.
Balance is to this, as it is to everything--the key. Finding the right balance is critical to a healthy and successful usage of technology. It is important to ask yourself—what am I ignoring while using technology? And—what do I have the potential to gain while using technology? The answers to these questions will help create boundaries in your real space, strike a natural balance, and help you to never forget the art of real conversation.
 Kluger, Jeffrey. “We never talk any more: The problem with text messaging.” TIME Magazine. (2012): Web. 6 Sep 2012. <http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/31/tech/mobile/problem-text-messaging-oms/index.html>