In Real Life Excerpt #3 — from “Technology and Spirituality”

It’s easy for able-bodied and neurotypical people to take conversation skills for granted. Learning them is just part of growing up. It’s easy not to think about how much harder conversation is for someone who is blind or deaf, or who is developmentally less able to read social cues from facial expressions. People with those obstacles struggle to adjust and keep up with what can seem like impossible social demands.

The constraints of online communication can suddenly put otherwise able-bodied and able-minded people into a comparable situation, only they aren’t used to struggling to hold a conversation, so it frequently goes awry. Internet fights go on and on, continuing long after anyone’s getting anything valuable from them. People just can’t empathize as easily with people who aren’t—or at least don’t appear to be—right in front of them. I’m sure that will change over generations, but we have to help that process along right now. We have to teach and practice mindfulness as a prerequisite for all encounters online and off. Our relationships depend on it.

From Chapter 3: “Technology and Spirituality”