The way we were: Was it really that groovy?

[This is a guest post by Susanna Jani.   Susanna is highly respected in British Columbia (and beyond) for her contributions to the field of mediation.  Mediate BC named an award after her; the annual Susanna Jani Prize for Excellence in Mediation.   So well deserved!   Susanna’s  commitment and generous spirit has won her many friends, including me. :)]

Page's Once Upon a TimeMy conversation with a friend a few days ago took a rather interesting turn.  At some point, during what was supposed to be a fun tour of the web conferencing platform used in the Distance Family Mediation Project, her amazement and appreciation of the technology morphed into a lamentation about the good old days.

Her point was simple, and one that I am not unsympathetic to:  “Why all this change?  What was wrong with the way we used to get together?”

Sure.  Interacting by web conference, or any of the other new technologies, is a big change for most of us over the age of … ahem… 50.  The learning curve is a steep one, due only partly to the fact that so many of our tried-and-true communication strategies rely on body language, up close and personal.  It is difficult not to mourn the loss of “the way we were”, the way we used to meet in person to do work and to socialize.

On second thought, though, what is this mourning actually about? Old fashioned fear of the unfamiliar?  Being tired of the unending stream of new stuff to learn? Not fully understanding the benefits of the latest technologies?  I don’t know, but I do think that the time for mourning is over.  “The way we were” is, simply put, passé composé.  And maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.  There may not have been anything wrong with the way we used to get together, but was it really always that great?

Is it possible that “the way we were” has changed because some of it wasn’t quite as groovy as we tell ourselves?

[Susanna Jani was the Project Coordinator for Mediate BC Society’s Distance Family Mediation Project.   Susanna suggests checking out tips in the Project’s publication, “Mediating from a Distance: Suggested Practice Guidelines for Family Mediators”.]

Photo: “Once Upon a Time” (at Page’s Resort & Marina, Gabriola Island) by Susanna Jani


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