I wrote yesterday about how the personal touch (exemplified by the late Senator Kennedy) is an essential part of building relationships with people.
According to today's Wall Street Journal, this is becoming a lost art with today's youth. Call me a curmudgeonly old man (why not, my family does), but I think that it is essential to put down our digital appliances and just talk to other people once in a while. If you don't get your kids into the habit of doing this, they'll never learn.
I am a pretty avid computer user and blog (of course), use Facebook, Twitter, and spend plenty of time on email. I'm not against any of these services and find them very valuable. But, there is also a place for personal connection. Losing the ability to read non-verbal cues is a major disadvantage in life. It will hurt you in job interviews and in business dealings (at least until everyone loses the ability to read non-verbal cues).
We try to have a family dinner most nights of the week. Texting and cell phones aren't allowed. We actually try to have conversations. With two teenage kids, it's not always easy. But, we're all better off for it.
My biggest pet peeve in business is having someone look away from a conversation to check their email or text messages. Why not just hold up a sign that says "There must be something in there that is more important than you"?! The worst example of this I have seen was during a company pitch. There were three people in the room -- the CEO, the VP of Engineering, and me, the VC. When the CEO was finished with the intro, he turned the presentation over to the VP of Engineering for the technical portion. And then, THE CEO CHECKED HIS EMAIL! I am sure he had heard the pitch before, but if he wasn't interested, why should I be? And, I wasn't. In fact, I stared at the CEO for a good five minutes before he realized that I wasn't paying attention to the VP of Engineering, who was getting increasingly nervous. Needless to say, the company didn't get very far.
Don't get so immersed in social media that you forget how to just be social. And, in business, it's very valuable to understand the Science of Schmooze.