I don’t talk to anyone any more- at least not face to face while I’m actually sharing the same space with them. In fact, I don’t even look at people any more.
Ok, that’s not entirely true, but consider the number of personal interactions you have on a daily basis. The advent of new technology, which theoretically enables us to be more efficient, consistently focuses on removing human interactions. We fuel our own cars; we take money out of the bank using a machine; we can check ourselves out of the grocery store; and increasingly, we communicate with each other in 140 characters, whether by text, tweeting or some other platform. And on top of that, we’re spending more time looking at a screen instead of looking around throughout the day, which means that even when we CAN interact, we’re increasingly preferring technology over one on one interactions.
And I’m right there with everyone trying to keep up (although I haven’t resorted to texting people I’m in the same room with, as I’ve repeatedly seen people do who were born after 1990!). According to a recent study by the Pew Center, more than twice as many Americans think that new technology makes life easier (64%) rather than more complicated (26%). All that technology is great except it means we’re losing those personal interactions we used to have throughout each day. How do we make up for that? Yup, you guessed: there’s an app for that! Actually there’s more than one app. Technological solutions abound. Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Pinterest and hundreds of other platforms allow us to create ways to communicate and share. The incredible growth of these platforms is a direct response to technology and the social interactions it removes from our daily life. They are ways to bring us closer together even when we’re not physically together. They are replacements for face to face interactions.
But it’s not the same. And that’s why we will continue to seek other ways of replacing these interactions and why, in my opinion, giving will continue to grow in importance in our daily lives: because it provides the opportunity to give us those human interactions. You can buy a well to ensure that nomadic Tuaregs in Niger have safe drinking water, provide school lunch for kids whose families can’t afford to feed them, fund transportation so members of a senior center can enjoy art at a local museum. The list goes on, and even though these interactions are not direct replacements for sharing time with someone you cherish, they fill a similar emotional hole. Organizations that understand this dynamic and enable simple ways of giving will benefit. During a historically abysmal economic climate, charitable giving increased 3.8% in the US between 2009 and 2010 (Giving USA 2010). Whether donating money or time, giving fits in with the way our culture is moving.
So despite the challenges that technology creates for personal interactions, the silver lining is that we’re seeing increased involvement in giving. My view is that this trend will continue, and the organizations that find ways to enable engagement in both traditional and nontraditional ways will reap the rewards.
Has using more technology changed your desire to give? Are you giving differently today than you were 5 years ago?