About the necessity to meet in person.

How to cite this journal: Author, Date of the post, WMO Conflict Insight, Title of the post, ISSN:
2628-6998, https://worldmediation.org/journal/

Dear reader, please understand this short article as a critical reflection on our current situation, a situation that few of us may understand in full, and who are prepared to act accurately.

While being on a business trip in Asia, I had the fortunate possibility to meet and to sit down with two colleagues of mine. It was one of these moments beyond social media, phone conferences, short and voice messages. We got lost in time and created our own micro cosmos of eye contact and gestures, exchange thoughts and lots of laughter. What was going on? What was different from our widely accepted mode of communication? It was about us, being a group of like-minded persons having common and dissimilar points of view, and enjoying a creative and constructive discussion.

Media intents to make us believe that nowadays communication should be fast, via satellites and glass-fiber cables. More likely, that each information should be shared in order to be social, and should be noted and marked with a ‘like’ as soon as it appears. Ladies and gentlemen, it is my strong belief that mankind was not made for this type of communication. The increasing number of addicted children to internet consumption is as dramatic as more and more bachelor students suffering burnouts and disillusion or even depressions at a very young age.

I ask you to make up your mind and to take a step back in order to observe from another angle what is happening in our lives. Being end-users of media, huge companies make immense profits with the lifetime and the content that we offer them for free. Fear of missing information and data is raised in our unconsciousness and we are forced to constantly buy the latest mobile devices because of software updates, new applications, or predetermined breaking points of hardware.

Is this the life that we are looking for? Obviously, we are spending more time enriching others than we invest in our personal or professional development. If we are able to reject this information terrorism that is accepted and supported by our governments, only then we will be able to get control of our lives again and master our destiny. Too sad indeed, that it is a government that concentrates more on the financial turnover of their states, than on protecting and investing in the citizens. We are running the risk to impoverish more and more regarding both – education and social competence.

The time that we invest in media, is life capacity that we do not dedicate to breaking free of physical, mental, and spiritual slavery. And yes, the high-speed communication via video phone calls and networking makes us connect with people, but are you still trained in initiating small talk, in starting a conversation, or in making a person laugh? I am afraid we do not win with our current way of communicating, but that we miss far more – actually skills that we can’t even transfer to our children.

But getting back to the beginning, the group of my colleagues. One of my colleagues came up with the term of structural violence, and all of us agreed that this is what we are actually suffering. He did not want to miss the opportunity to make us reflect commonly on how we may resolve this dilemma. So, we spend even more hours on investigation and evaluation of reasonable strategies.

One thing is for sure, each of us is part of a complex social structure where we have responsibilities towards ourselves but also towards our environment. Getting in contact with them by meeting them physically, is the best way to have a supporting impact on their lives. Exchanges on common and dissimilar points may form an endless value and may create true friendships and harmony. You may know that this is the main reason why we offer the World Mediation Organization Symposium, we want people to re-connect, we hope people build true friendships, and we encourage them to exchange in real life, experiencing the power of attraction.

This Post Has 13 Comments

  1. Very good article Daniel. I am interested in your comments about using virtual reality as one method of introducing people to mediation as I had mentioned in my article Mediation in Context.

  2. In your article “About the Necessity to Meet in Person,” I agree wholeheartedly on the in-person face time sentiment. Backchannel communication not only fails to promote social interaction and tolerance, but also, if not carefully conveyed, opens room for misinterpretation especially when communicating through cross culture. Even between Canadians and Americans when both countries use English as the official language. E.g. our concept of being a “liberal” is different than our American counterparts. American’s liberal party is extreme left, while Canadian’s liberal party is the equivalent of the American’s Democrats. If not explained clearly, a lot of tension could be generated through backchannel communication. Since when was the last time an American will look up the Liberal’s principles before criticizing our Prime Minister for being too socialistic (and as if it is a bad thing)? This echoed your comment on “Facing the term, Peace” where the communication tool we used prior to social media and back channeling, we were able to observe the body language along with the others, get to take cue from the various cultural interaction (e.g. Japanese women will not likely star at you in the eyes when speaking). Communication via electronic medium that project a one dimension of technical culture and language that we are unable to experience have we interact at a human level.

    1. Daniel Erdmann

      Dear Louisa,

      isn’t it fascinating to discover how language is used in different countries, cultures or nations? I believe it is highly important to critically analyze these potentials of misunderstandings in order to prevent conflict in a broader sense. When I speak to people I often explain that I speak German-English and that I use English words in a way my proper cultural programming indicates me to do. I do not believe that it is important for a global community to make use of one sterile prototype of English language. It might be more important to grant space for diversity within such an international group. It is a very easy task to double-check the deeper meaning of a sentence or a statement. So, a diverse use of English terms should not something to worry about but an indication regarding the quantity of diverse conceptions that life offers us to discover and to make use of.

      Best regards, Daniel

  3. Dr. AbdelGadir Warsma Ghalib

    The personal touch is of paramount importance. Sticking to remote communication through (machines) will make us part of the machinery system rather than the human personal system..
    No doubt we need both, however, always the personal touch and the body language are of great deeper effects..

    1. Daniel Erdmann

      Dear Abdel,

      thank you for your thoughts. Yes, I think so too – we need both. Basically, I would say it is a question of finding a personal balance between online and offline communication. Such a balance may provide a state of harmony within the social environment of the individual – for example the proper family. Many times I witness families being on vacation and each one is totally disconnected from the rest. Heads down, lost in the infinitive world of the world wide web. This is a crucial point as obviously two issues come together. First, people are distracted and do not pay attention to persons who are available for offline communication, and second, online communication or engagement is realized at the same point, with all its risks of creating misunderstandings. I believe that we talk about two potential fields of conflict. What do you think?

      Best regards, Daniel

  4. There is no doubt that meeting in person is essential, we must understand that a new dimension has been created and that we must operate and communicate online as well. In the context of conflict resolution, using online communication could help us complement the “offline” dialogue and contribute to power asymmetry, ongoing communication and even provide us with a new method of monitoring and evaluation.

    1. Daniel Erdmann

      Dear Arik,

      yes, our current communication concept and the proper understanding of what communication is, underlies drastic changes. But such changes are not mandatorily of negative nature. I believe the key to an effective use of new communication channels is the personal ability to integrate it to what was done in the past. Even though, we take as an example an offline and face-to-face dialogue between two persons, the basic ability to use mobile devices in order to additionally visualize the content or specific parts of it, may enrich and foster both person’s understanding. Far more complex and difficult the situation becomes if communication is done in a full online modus. Here, a responsible communication partner must be well known to the other party in order to prevent misunderstanding. If both parties do not know each other previously, the prevention of misunderstanding might require a very detailed manner exchanging information. This could become a very time-consuming aspect.

      While traveling, I have the possibility to witness people texting each other for hours. I think that a simply phone call could bring the communication to a matching end within one minute. What do you think? And what are your experiences when you teach such content within the field of Conntix ?

      BR, Daniel

  5. Thalia

    Neuroscience teaches us that our brain retains information through the five senses and one of them is touch. Many kids in America have been diagnosed with ADHD or ADD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). According to the National Survey of Children’s Health, 10% of kids, that is about 6.1 million children from 4 – 17 have differences in brain development and brain activity affecting attention, the ability to sit still, and self-control. Clearly the technology has been blamed by many health institutions and is now being warned by hospitals.

    The situation with the connectivity with the world has indeed make the world more connected, yet more conflicts have arisen by mental health issues in America alone. The sense of community is slowly disappearing. As we urge to make such connections as this article mentions, by equipping ourselves with better gadgets, the simplicity of neighbor to neighbor relationship is becoming more difficult. As I am replying to this great article, I am indeed thankful for technology, yet I do hope we create and/or help creating 5 senses type of environments. I am convinced that in such way, statistics can lessen the number of mental health incidents in children whom will create new relationships tomorrow.

    1. admin

      Dear Thalia,

      thank you for your thoughts and the time that you invested for sharing your expertise. I had the possibility to teach Life Skills at a local primary school. Even though we may hear many stories of children being diagnosed with ADHD and ADD, it was a breath taking experience to see myself being involved in such class dynamics. Due to the topic that I taught the children of age 5 to 12, we had lots of time to talk about each other’s social behaviors, experiences in life, and expectations of what future might bring.

      Sometimes the classes showed up to 80 % of the children with serious ADHD or ADD syndromes. I gathered the information that I got from our conversations and I identified three components that repeated themselves in the individual social familiar cases of the children:

      1) a serious lack of social connectivity within the proper family, what means that these children did not receive any type of emotional support or social attention,
      2) a non supportive concept of alimentation, that showed a total hyperglycemic consume,
      3) a high-end media addiction that included television, cellphone, online games.

      Personally, I was shocked when I realized that these young creatures are the new target group of our consumer’s society, being attacked by commercials and industry taking away all the youthful enthusiasm that children need to properly develop. Summing it us – yes, the ADHD or ADD diagnosed children needed a lot of attention but mainly a helping hand of a friend who looked them in the eyes, offered them patience, and gave them space for a conversation.

      I wish them all only the best, Daniel Erdmann

      1. Thalia

        Dear Daniel,
        This has been an amazing experience you have obtained. I am surprised at the results of your gathered information from the conversations with these children.
        I can only feel more encouraged to keep working on the understanding for molding minds. Such individuals need a huge support. It would be great to keep track of your students ten – fifteen years from now. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

        1. Daniel Erdmann

          Dear Thalia,

          yes, you are right. It was an outstanding experience. And yes, it would be great to see the development of these students. Due to the fact that this was a local area with a very high unemployment cipher, there are lots of difficulties and challenges in the way of such children. From my perspective, the proper development of the kids would need a mandatory and binding supervision by a social worker. Apart of that, lots of groundwork in the families has to be done.

          I am still dreaming of a specific educational program that young adults have to go through, best at an early stage of pregnancy. This course should deliver a fundamental knowledge on how to socialize a kid, how to properly nourish a baby, etc. Maybe something like this could be called ‘Parent’s License’. To me, it sometimes look like people are not aware of the fact that raising a child is connected to many obligations and restrictions. The setting of the partnership totally changes, two become three or more. That means that a family is born and such a family bears new rules within.

          Best regards, Daniel

    2. Sherina M. Saji

      I totally agree that symposium is a good platform to connect people. Exchanging ideas face to face truly help in building friendships. In today’s world, people opt technology as media to touch base. Virtual media such as Skype and WebEx creates an illusion in people that they are effectively involved in meetings, but I feel that people are indeed compromising the power of attraction that evolves from an in-person meeting.
      Personally, I prefer holding meetings with my clients and having a direct encounter with them in collecting information concerning the matter rather than getting it in written mode. While considering the written instructions from clients, I have to say that there were situations which reminded me of the idiomatic antithesis, “the letter and spirit of the law”. I have often got confused whether to take the literal interpretation of the words or their intent. Ultimately, clarifications are made by scheduling meetings.
      It’s a fact that true approaches of people are embedded in their body language and the environment created during the meetings, symposiums and social gatherings speak volumes. Whatever said and done, the truth that the latest technology allows us to communicate with others more conveniently and spontaneously cannot be denied as well.

      1. Daniel Erdmann

        Dear Sherina,

        thank you very much for your thoughts. I totally confirm that there is no way to substitute the personal meeting in real life. It is funny that I even had to add to this sentence the specification of ‘real life’ – as media nowadays intents to make us accept that virtual meetings are personal meetings. And yes, meeting a person offers a much wider spectrum of understanding. The verbal exchange of information finds itself in conjunction with body language and many other details that would be totally lost in a virtual way.

        I think we should be mindful to NOT accept virtual communication too much in our lives. I am afraid of the day when nobody remembers the socio-emotional benefits of meeting up – face to face.

        Best regards, Daniel Erdmann

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