Former president Bill Clinton has some excellent words on Facebook and the communications culture that is developing in our country.

Williams: “Do you have an opinion on Facebook as a movement, as a product, as an IPO? And did you buy in?”

Clinton: “No, I didn’t buy any, no, I don’t have an opinion on the IPO. What I’m worried about is that for young people who send an average of 80 text messages a day on their telephones, and live on the internet, that it may make it harder for them now and for the rest of their lives to be present where they are. I think one thing is, I was the last president born—President Bush, I never asked him this, how old he was when he got his first television—I was 10 years old before we got a television. I grew up in a storytelling era where you were supposed to be present where you are. That’s what I worry about.”

(Via The Transom)

 

I have certainly seen this in action, where people I’m (supposedly) having a conversation with cannot stop looking at their phones. This is devastating to effective personal communication. It also leads to others developing the strong impression that you really don’t care about them or the matter at hand.

My first go-around on Twitter, I wasn’t aware of how much it was dominating my life. After a dinner, someone commented about it to my wife, who lovingly as always, gently let me know that there was a problem. It took quitting completely and starting over several years later to get a proper grasp of the thing. Now, I check it in the morning and evening, and maybe once or twice more if I have down time waiting in line somewhere. Ditto with email: dedicated times, a few a day, and otherwise focus on the work I already have assigned.

Clinton is right: “Be present where you are.” I imagine that’s part of what made him such an effectively persuasive person.