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Slow Social

Lauren Cortis

When I was a kid I loved making mix tapes. When my older brother was out I'd sneak into his room and find his black vinyl case. Clicking open the silver latches revealed his carefully maintained cassette collection, organised in such a way that any interference by a nosey little sister could be detected. After selecting my targets and noting their positions I would promptly return to my room for the dubbing session to begin.

Tape to tape recording was a fun process for a nine year old. There was something about turning it to double speed and hearing a Guns'N'Roses power ballad in a chipmunk voice that never got old. And getting all the na-na-na-na-nas perfectly timed while singing along to Roxette's The Look was no easy feat. I have always been up for a challenge, regardless of the quality of the music.

But as fun as the occasional double speed listening experience was, it was nothing like listening to my contraband cassettes through the headphones of my Sony walkman. Hearing the emotion filled vocals of Jon Bon Jovi teamed with the soulful harmonies of Richie Sambora delivering alive acoustic version of Living on a Prayer. That was a different experience altogether.

This is similar to how I feel about many of the online communication options that are available to us at the moment. They're like the double speed version of information broadcasting, giving us an overview of a lot of information in a short amount of time. But you have to be there when it's being shared to consume it. Take a few days off checking into your Twitter feed or muting your WhatsApp notifications for an afternoon and the conversation moves on regardless. It can be hard to catch up, if at all. Because those platforms aren't built for occasional check ins. They want to keep you constantly engaged in high throughput communication on their platform as much as possible.

There's nothing wrong with this. Just like with the tape dubbing, it provides entertainment. But if you use such platforms for work related conversations, it doesn't domuch to promote work-life balance. There's an underlying expectation that you're always available, making it much more difficult to switch off from work. It's also hard to find that deeper, richer type of discussion that can only work at a slower paced environment.

And so we face a choice. We embrace it and try to keep up, taking breaks when we need to, or we disengage. We keep it old school and stick to person to person contact through phone or email and leave the platform based stuff alone. But that's not without it's issues either.

I think the issues relating to phone calls are pretty obvious; you have to both be available at the same time in order for it to work. For me, who kind of hates talking on the phone, that means it has to be the sort of problem that crosses the threshold of'important enough to call about'. Something that needs to be resolved within a quick time frame. I don't want to phone someone and interrupt their day regarding something that is a general query. I feel self-conscious about imposing that on others by calling them. 

And email, well I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who's email inbox is overflowing. Or has a whole bunch of emails that never get opened month after month. We are getting blasted with information. Even when the emails are from trusted sources, things can go astray quickly. Because email wasn't built for the way we use it today. It was built to be used the same way we use postal mail. Not for quick messages, or detailed group discussions. Definitely not for group discussions where the members of the group change over time.

Which brings us to Traversity, an online communication and collaboration platform specifically designed for healthcare. A slow kind of social media where you can control your engagement without fear of missing out. Where you can have open and honest dialogue to support each other in getting the work done, wherever you are.

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