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About Don Dingee

An experienced strategic marketer and editorial professional, and an engineer by education, Don is currently a blogger, speaker, and author on social computing topics, and a marketing strategy consultant. He's had previous gigs at Embedded Computing Design magazine, Motorola, and General Dynamics.

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Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

Posted November 26, 2012 8:40 AM by dondingee

Dear Santa,
It has been many years since I have written you. I was taught never to ask anyone for anything for myself, that it is a presumptuous and selfish thing to do, so this is not for me. I know you are busy filling the wish lists of children everywhere, but wanted to take a moment to ask for your help for everyone.

There is good news. The love that parents have for their children is still strong. Basic acts of kindness between people still happen. The joy of giving a gift from the heart is still out there. From your perspective, things may not seem all that different, though the gifts people are asking for have changed.

Simple toys and clothes have been replaced by technology on most lists. These tech gifts have become expensive, beyond the reach of many in this economy, but that's not the only problem now. The same gifts that are supposed to bring happiness have in some cases brought other feelings.

Technology has connected our world in amazing ways, closing the distance between people, allowing the exchange of new ideas instantly. But that same effect has increased the clutter in our lives, reduced our attention span, and enabled polarizing discussion that is pushing us farther apart.

With so many items competing for our time and attention, we are now under tremendous pressure just to sort out all the communication aimed in our general direction. Much of it is noise, drowning and numbing us. Thoughtful discussion has been replaced by shouting and soundbyting and pithy Tweets and viral YouTube vids. Information has been displaced by entertainment. Learning has taken a back seat to promotion.

Immediacy has also become distracting, and dangerous. The pressure to post on Facebook daily often outweighs the need to listen to a family member in the same house. We get really frustrated when our technology doesn't work right, and stop everything we are doing to fix it, unhappily growling at others around us until successful. People are willing to risk their lives, and the lives of those they don't know, dividing their attention between driving and texting or talking.

The whole idea of what is valuable has changed. Everyone seems to want instant return on investment, immediate results even when facing the most difficult of issues. Differences aren't celebrated, they are ridiculed, and those who can't deliver something someone wants right away are cast aside. Relationships have become more about what-is-in-it-for-me, and what-have-you-done-for-me-lately, instead of looking at the longer term and overlooking flaws.

Discussions have become unproductive, divisive, and hurtful. People say things on social channels, separated by a comfortable distance, they would never say in front of a person. Friendships end with texts, which is sad. Every move of public figures is dissected, assailed, and resisted by anyone who can post an opinion, which has led to gridlock. Job seekers who invest in face-to-face interviews and hand-written thank you notes get back form emails with the words "not qualified", a non-response that avoids truth. Facts are no longer a requirement, and just slow down the conversation because they have to be explained, or responded to.

Instead, the people sought after are those with rock star or guru next to their name, experts in promotion who can make something appear desirable, skilled in using air time. Substance isn't that important, only the ability to engage and convince enough people to listen.

Santa, have you noticed any of this in the way people use the technology gifts you bring?

Read the Whole Article.

Editor's Note: CR4 would like to thank Don Dingee for sharing this blog entry.

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#1

Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/26/2012 10:33 AM

This blog entry touches on a lot of things I've noticed over the past few years. My eight-year-old nephew wants an iPad - he got a cell phone last year. The four-year-old wants his own gaming system. Sure, I used to dream big when I was a kid, but not quite that big! And I understood which dreams were unrealistic.

The rest of the entry resonates, too. I have watched people battle it out on social channels like Facebook and wind up blocking each other over an argument that probably should have been kept private. One bashed her mother-in-law and asked her friends for their agreement and support. (Yes, the MIL was in the wrong, but I don't think public posts on Facebook are the appropriate forum for airing family grievances.)

I think what a lot of it comes down to is people just not understanding the implications of social media. At first glance sites like Facebook seem like playgrounds or places to chat with friends. Only after awhile do most discover the unintended consequences of posting anything and everything.

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#2

Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/26/2012 11:48 AM

I find myself on both sides of this.

Technology has produced media monsters. The advent of social networking has prompted people to believe that their daily life needs broadcast. The only people who acquired this attention before these connections were celebrities; as more people become accustomed to and expectant of this instant gratification, their values have shifted to better accommodate this self-righteousness. Technology has moved beyond interpersonal connection to interpersonal invasion. As recently as the 1990s, people understood etiquette and privacy; today, the guy in the register line holds people up because he's talking to his girlfriend about her medical diagnosis, because it simply cannot wait. We serve our devices and institutions as much as they serve us.

"The things you own, end up owning you."

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/27/2012 12:01 AM

Technology will kill us all and if not the rest will kill off each other. Just keep giving people all the free things they ask for and no one will work,and the world will die.

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#4

Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/27/2012 6:44 AM

You underestimate the capacity of the people to find their own way forward.."The times they are a changin" to quote a Bob Dylan lyric of days gone by is true each and every day and here we are still moving forward...Happy Christmas

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#5

Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/27/2012 9:06 AM

Don't be so deceived writing to a person who has been dead for about 1700 years.

santa will never see it.

Up here in Canada seniors are also so deceived and write letters to him

and volunteers at Canada Post reply.

Instead just write a letter to Jesus or just ask Him.

He always hears us. He lives forever

But if you doubt in His existence, just do a secular Roman historical study

and you'll find the truth.

TTYL

Jens

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#6

Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/27/2012 9:59 AM

My oh my, this is just about the most cynical point of view I've seen regarding technology in quite some time. With articles like these, you always here about the shut-ins or business people that can't make time for their families, or perhaps the obnoxious people on your social networking sites. Overall, just the handful of people we can all relate to someone in our own real lives.

Here's the thing though:

Those people will be shut-ins with or without technology, and those business people will just bury themselves in paperwork if their blackberry isn't around. The obnoxious posts and arguments on facebook / twitter? It'd just happen in real life. The only real argument here is that perhaps things are more public than ever before? All that technology has done in this regard is evolve how people do the things they do.

What never gets mentioned is how technology has brought so many people together. Do you have family in another country? Not even a problem. Technology has made reconnecting to friends and family long distance incredibly accessible / easy to do. Prior to Skype, I'd maybe see my family in Oklahoma once or twice a year. Now, I can catch up with my relatives face to face whenever we want. Want to keep a connection with people from high school / college, despite everyone moving to the four corners of the world? I could go on for hours about this with examples.

I personally think we're attacking the wrong people here. Everyone wants to raise their pitchforks against computers / facebook / phones when what we should really be raising an eyebrow at is the lack of moderation some people seem to have with their usage of such devices. All devices (routers, phones, etc.) have built in capabilities of limiting how much they can be used. If parents want their kids to slow down on technology, just put a cap on the bandwidth instead of yelling at Apple for making products.

</rant>

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#7

Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/27/2012 11:06 AM

Great comments so far, thank you for your insights.

There are bonus points for readers who read the entire post :-)

"Nothing is perfect, and nobody is immune from change. We must all learn constantly, and much of the problem isn't the technology, it's our behavior. Maybe what I'm really asking for is that we slow down and treat each other better, and that we find a way to feel better about ourselves without having to misuse all this technology."

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/27/2012 11:08 AM

Welp, caught me with my pants down, no bonus points for me today!

Regardless, great article

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#10
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Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/27/2012 11:28 AM

Thanks for reading and commenting. I try not to be overly cynical, usually it is to make a point.

You raise an interesting thought about shut-ins will be shut-ins. I've been studying the "lonely crowd" effect for a while. That theory was put forth in the early 1950s, in a post-WWII culture with landline phones, radio, and the beginnings of TV adoption - way before social. It is more about people getting lost in the rush of others focused on their lives just passing by, not noticing someone on the sidelines.

That problem has been around since we loosened ties with the family unit and started moving around the globe, which was accelerated by WWII. You point out the good that tech does in strengthening those ties over distance now.

Good experiences, whether IRL or online, should be cherished. There is hope.

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#9

Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/27/2012 11:28 AM

The thing to remember here is that technology produces tools. How those tools are used is where the problems lie. People use them incorrectly or may become obsessed with them. That doesn't make the tool bad, it just shows the character of the person using them.

You're right that people do say things through social media, etc. that they would never say to a person's face. That is unfortunate, but not the fault of the tool. More directly it is the result of a deterioration of individual character, morality, standards and mores in our society.

When people count on texting, e-mailing, etc. to communicate they lose the necessary skills to interact with people in a meaningful way. You need to be able to see people and interact. You need to be able to recognize and utilize body language, tone in the voice, etc., in order to communicate the most effectively. People also end up being chicken and dealing with performance or character issues through texts or e-mails when those types of things need to be done face to face or at least on the phone if the face to face isn't possible. It takes courage to confront and bring resolution to problems.

There are some great technology that helps facilitate relationships. When my son (21 yrs. old) was in China for 7 months it was great to talk to him on the phone where it sounded like he was next door rather than 12,000 miles away and also able to SKYPE with him and see him visually. I know many of our military families benefit greatly because of this technology. That helps to keep family ties stronger.

It is also harder to be discerning of the credibility of the information we are availing ourselves to because once people see something in print or on a page they think it's true. We have such an ignorant society that don't know how to think for themselves and see what kind of information is credible or not. The last election is a prime example of that. People aren't able to distinguish reality from "spun" information and therefore made faulty decisions at the ballot box.

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#11

Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/27/2012 4:17 PM

For a long time, I've resisted the temptation to buy the latest and greatest gadgets (I-phones, I-books, 60" led TV's, etc). I still use an old Cell phone, no E-mail, no messaging. I finally broke down and bought a hand held scanner, even though I can't afford it. They finally got to me and my resistance was low. I hope I won't regret it.

Stores spend millions each year to get you to buy what you thought you could live without. The TV stores are the worse, like HSN and QVC. They can be very persuasive.

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#12

Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/27/2012 11:35 PM

Technology & Science with utmost consideration on Environmental Sustainability is the order of the day. Dedicated initiatives are already going on. The thing is, more than Santa to do that, we Engineers have moral commitment to achieve that.

Technology will make your new Year wishes come true.

We need to be open minded to receive it without preconceptions.

Regards

Prof. Subramaniam Udhayamarthandan

www.sustechinitiatives.com

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#13

Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/28/2012 9:31 AM

CR4 ADMIN: Deleted Post

Duplicate This post was deleted because it is a duplicate comment.

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#14

Re: Dear Santa, Please Bring Technology That Brings Us Together

11/28/2012 4:00 PM

I think with just a little more technology, we can make this a paperless society.

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