by Christopher Piehler

Christopher Piehler

I love the printed word as much (or more) than the next fella, but it does have its limitations. For example, if it were up to me, I would start every Editor’s Message with, “Hi! Good to see you again. How’ve you been?” The problem is that, on the page, that looks like a bland and boring clichÉ. But face to face, it can be the catalyst of a great conversation.

As I prepare to hop a jet for Phoenix and the PCSO Annual Session, I have been mulling over the decline of face time. This is certainly the case when it comes to trade shows. According to a news item from Tradeshow Week, “Three out of four of the world’s tradeshow organizers said revenue declined in the first half of the year, compared with the same period last year, and four out of five anticipate revenue declines in the second half of this year. … Survey respondents were split almost down the middle between those who believe the industry will recover next year or in 2011 or later.”

In the world at large, we are spending less and less time sharing physical space with other human beings. A whole day at the mall has been replaced by a few clicks on Amazon. Why go talk to a librarian when you have Medline? And now that I mention it, who talks anymore? It’s all about the texting, with an occasional IM for spice. More and more people are working over the Internet, too, so that their commute is only as far as the nearest laptop.

I am all for the efficiency and boundless information of the good old www, but like the written word, it only goes so far. I am certainly not the first to point out the oddity of calling someone whose status you monitor on Facebook a “friend.” To me, “friends” are all well and good as long as you remember that they are not real friends. We human beings have not evolved as fast as our technology. We still need direct human contact to nourish something in us that cannot be touched through a keyboard or a mouse.

So come late October, you will find me in Phoenix, enacting the time-honored tradition of pressing the flesh. As always, I am happy to get your calls, e-mails, or letters, but if you see me at the meeting, it sure would be great if you came up and said, “Hi! Good to see you again. How’ve you been?”

Christopher Piehler