Internet communication & leadership.. food for thought


I must confess, I have never been a PR man, or for that matter, communication expert. My communication sucks, neither am I eloquent in my speech, nor was I charismatic like my CEO when I talk to my people. Yet interestingly, I have triggering thoughts on areas that are not my forte recently, and it is about communication and leadership in the internet.

I remember, many eons ago, when internet first started in 1994, I was so amaze about how message get sends across to the other party, at amazing speed, relative to how informations can transferred over conventional postal means. And when BBS started to create a rave then, and internet was tipped to be the medium to bring everybody in the world together, virtually, create the next wave of information-exchange, that something physical medium is unable to achieve then.

From then till now, I observed that internet has changed, or improved dramatically, with all the high speed access and backbone technology. But one thing remains unchange, that's human behaviour over the internet.

Human being, being the emotional animal, remains to be emotional in their response, offline & online, be it in a happy or conflict exchange. No doubt, communicating behind a box gives a person ample time to stay composed while engaging in conversation versus face-to-face interactions, but the reality is, internet is slowly becoming another confrontational ground, and even more destructive than a conflict happening in a physical medium.

Why is that so? The saying goes human being's mouth react faster than
his brain, but internet induces human being's finger and brain to react more deadly than just the mouth alone. Ok, it's not suggestive, but think about it.

Words kill. What your mouth gush out are just emotional garbage. But imagine what happens when your brain had the chance to think, and your finger, on behalf of your mouth, ejects sacrastic words that are deadly and destructive.

Years after years, from the simple text-based BBS forum, to a first web-based online forum discussion, to a dynamic yet feature-pack forum software, forum in the software technolgoy world has grown by leaps and bounds. But human interactions over the forum, by and large, remains unchange. Mind you, this has nothing to do with culture, for I am dead sure that this happens everywhere in the world, be it in a “Free speech is king” North America, or “Talk in public and you will be shut off” Singapore.

It leads to the point, (I must confess again, I am a lousy writer, who has to write a long story just to make my point), that internet has become a double-edge sword to effective communication. It has made information exchange more readily available and convenient, it has also allow trigger-happy but destructive messages to create a negative impact much faster and easier than before, in a lightspeed fashion.

How many times do one digest the information that they received, infer & clarify (than deduce and conclude) before coming to a conclusion? Many of times, be it online or offline, people's response is always reacted based on past experience, negatively or positively, without further processing. We call it bio-react. In some instances, such reaction is socially acceptable, but in many instances, it creates alot of conflicts, and when the tension grows, the breakdown in conversation is just waiting to be happen, just like a rubber band waiting to be snapped while stretching. And with internet, all these are just accelerated, like anything else.

I am sure there are always people whose mindset is revolving around “I don't give a damn about the conflict or breakdown”. But are we so selfish that we just want to get our agenda across, at the expense of the cost of conversation? Well, the point I want to make here, my friend, is that such scenarios will always happen (until the day we are ALL socially responsible), and what differentiate one from another, is about his dynamic leadership quality, to stay above the hasty smoke, and continue to drive towards an authentic conversation, despite all the bio-reacted missiles flying around. That my friend, will be the people I feel we badly need in this forum.

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