Technology no substitute for the Human Face

I give thanks, most days, for the hearts and minds of the folks, way back in the 40s and 50s, who envisioned and created the first computers.

I give thanks, most days, for the ease with which I can contact friends in Florida, Australia, and Lebanon, through Facebook, LinkedIn, and text.

I give thanks, most days, that I have opposable thumbs for texting and lightning-fast fingertips for straight keyboarding.

And yet, something in my soul screams every time I get a text rather than a phone call, or an invitation to a “virtual” meeting rather than a physical gathering. Something in my soul shrinks when I turn on my Kindle, as much as I love it, and something in my soul enlarges when I pull a book from my shelf and sit down to read ink on paper.

Technology has enlarged the world. Technology could destroy it.

Charles Dickens summed it up in 1856, when he stated his sense of the “new technology” of the telegraph (italics and boldface mine):

O! what a thing it is, in a time of danger, and in the presence of death, the shining of a face upon a face!  I have heard it broached that orders should be given in great new ships by electric telegraph. I admire machinery as much as any man, and am as thankful to it as any man can be for what it does for us. But, it will never be a substitute for the face of a man, with his soul in it, encouraging another man to be brave and true.  Never try it for that.  It will break down like a straw.

What do you think? Was Dickens correct in his assessment of the “threat” of technology?  Your comments are welcome!

Just for today:  Encourage another to be brave and true – face upon face.