On September 10, 2012 I had the honor of facilitating a discussion on learning in the digital age at my first TEDx event, the TEDx Peachtree Salon (http://tedxpeachtree.com/about/tedxpeachtreesalon/). In an intimate discussion hosted at Engauge in Midtown Atlanta (http://www.engauge.com/) a group of diverse participants debated and weighed the benefits and consequences of living in a technological world.

For me, the struggle resonated at my core. As someone who loves people and loves to connect with them, technology has been a gift. I use Skype through my iPad, reach readers through my blog, share travel videos through my phone, and network on LinkedIn. I have learned to not only adapt to virtual training but to love it, to embrace the challenge of collaborating across the digital divide. Yet I’ve never felt more distracted in my life as I have these last three years or so.

As the TEDx Salon audience watched TED talks and shared their opinions, no clear answer emerged as to whether learning and living in this “connected” world is helping or hurting us. To start off the discussion, I provided a theme for us all to reflect on: Perhaps the answer to that question lies outside of A or B. Getting trapped into that dichotomous thinking is easy to do. We might think either A.) Technology opens up worlds of learning, living, connecting, and productivity or B.) Technology destroys human relationships, increases attention deficit, and stunts social development. Most people have strong opinions on the subject.

What if the “answer” to the digital question resides in a series of answers and options, not A or B but C and D and L, M, N, O, P? What if we never know the full effect of technology on our souls, but that we keep inquiring and keep questioning it?

Marketing and social media strategist Katie Melick created a blog entry that offers the videos we watched, as well as a stunning TED talk titled “Connected But Alone.” I would love to hear your thoughts on these topics. If you’d rather meet in person over coffee to share your ideas, I would welcome that connection.

You can find the videos at Katie’s blog here: http://kmelick.posterous.com/

I was humbled and excited by the brilliant minds in the room at our TEDx Salon. We heard from professors, young entrepreneurs, marketing experts, and non-profit champions. We all agreed that this subject of the consequences of technology should not be relegated to the unconscious; it should remain at the forefront of our minds and voices so that we do not go gently into the potential winter night of disconnection from our fellow human beings. Why? Because in the words of my favorite lyricist Neil Peart of Rush, “the measure of a life is a measure of love and respect, the way you live, the gifts that you give.”

I ended my facilitation with another thought for reflection: Whatever you do with technology, do it on purpose.

I would like to thank TEDx Peachtree for providing me with the opportunity to moderate this thought-provoking topic.

Until next time!

Vicki Flier Hudson

Vicki Flier Hudson

Vicki Flier Hudson, Chief Collaboration Officer for Highroad Global Services, Inc. inspires people to leverage the full power of differences. She has helped countless large-sized corporations establish successful operations across the globe and build bridges across cultures, distance, and time.

3 Comments

  • Michael Helperin says:

    These are excellent insights and very well stated, making this a blog entry worth rereading. It is, I agree, altogether too easy to be seduced by the simplicity of a dogmatic point of view; and it is the easiest thing of all to simply ignore altogether the questions you raise and simply “let the chips fall where they may.” The questioning you advocate is far more healthful. Bravo!

  • Thank you so much, Michael. I always thought that technology alone was not the cause of our disconnectedness, but rather our perceived lack of choice about when we do or do not use it. When I see a couple on a date both staring at their phones, it seems they are acting more out of habit than choice. I appreciate your comment!

  • Mary Frances says:

    Right on,k girl. Sounds great.

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