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Plug into your humanity: Take time to 'personally' connect with people

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Dawn Altmaier
  • 92nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron First Sergeant
Human -- an adjective meaning "consisting of people" ( Humanity -- a noun meaning: "the quality or condition of being human; human nature." (

As I view the world around me, I always see human beings, but unfortunately, I do not always see humanity. Sadly, I see people pass by each other but not notice one another. I have seen a group of people sitting together, but not speaking because they were all too busy "texting." I see human beings losing touch with people. It is time to put down the smart phones, step away from the keyboards, take out the headphones and reclaim our humanity.

What kind of world have we created when we can spend 30 minutes going back and forth in a conversation over text messaging, but we do not think to invite that person to coffee or lunch? What kind of world do we live in when we can have 600 Facebook friends, but nobody with whom to spend a Friday night? What kind of Wingmen have we become when we know our coworkers video game call sign, but not where they come from? What we have done as a human race, is put our humanity on the shelf in the name of technology.

As members of the United States Air Force, AFI 36-2618, The Enlisted Force Structure, tasks supervisors to stay involved with, to mentor, to provide feedback to and to guide their subordinate's daily activities. All Air Force members must recognize the signs of depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts. But, how can we do these things when our eyes, ears and minds are plugged into the latest and greatest technological gadget?

My family and I are just as guilty. Just the other evening, my husband was surfing Craig's List on the laptop, I was reading a book on my new IPAD2, my youngest daughter was in her room watching YouTube videos and my oldest daughter was in her room texting me, "What's for dinner?" while updating her Facebook status. Within our home, each of us had tuned into some gadget and tuned out of each other. This is not the way to establish or maintain healthy relationships or open communication.

Unfortunately, this habit of typically communicating electronically spills over into our work centers. How many of us are guilty of sending an e-mail to the person across the hall when a visit would have sufficed? How many of us eat meals at our desk rather than occasionally taking a subordinate or peer out for lunch?

Don't get me wrong, there is a time and a place for technology. It makes our jobs easier and in most cases faster. However, we should realize that in the process of enjoying the benefits of all the latest and greatest gadgets, we should avoid the detriments that come with losing our humanity. One suicide attempt, or worse -- success, is one too many.

Sharing our experiences, trials and tribulations can mean the difference between an Airman succeeding or stumbling. Enjoying a meal together can give someone a deserved break or an opportunity to open up and ask for help.

Taking time out of our hustle and bustle schedules can make a world of difference to the people in our world. Unplug yourself from your technology and plug yourself into your humanity--you are human after all.